Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


University of Wollongong - Department of Management


This research studies the interorganisational relationships within Australia's three federated network universities: the University of Western Sydney, Charles Sturt University, and the University of N e w England; in the period from 1988 to 1993. It examines the history, operation, and performance of the network universities from an Interorganisational Relations perspective drawn from the Management discipline. Interorganisational relations is primarily concerned with how organisations interact with their external environment. It considers the reasons organisations enter into relationships with other organisations, the motivations which determine the permanence of these relations, and the nature of these relations. Interorganisational relations is becoming increasingly important to organisations, both in the public and private sector, as they become aware that they need other organisations in order to survive and succeed. The federated network structure is an organisational structure which allows organisations to form interorganisational relationships under the guise of being a single organisation but allows them to retain some control and management over their own interorganisational activities. The literature's empirical investigation of the interorganisational relationships within federated network structures is still at an embryonic stage. This research proposes that the interorganisational relations within a federated network structure are critical to the performance of the network. It also proposes that the role of the central coordinating agency will contribute to the performance of the federated network structure. This research's fundamental theoretical framework is the federated network structure as a political economy developed by Benson (1975). This research develops the new concept that the political economy has degrees of strength. A strong political economy is where the interorganisational relationship allows member organisations to pursue funds and authority vigorously. A moderate political economy allows members the capacity to pursue funds and authority but this is moderated by a degree of central control. A weak political economy denies members the opportunity to pursue funds and authority in the competitive and combatative sense of the political economy. This research is designed to examine these issues. It aims to contribute to the understanding of relationships within network structures. It finds that the federated network structure is largely defined and explained by the members’ pursuit of funds and authority within the network’s political economy.

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