Reticulist’s corner

What’s a reticulist?

A reticulist is someone who possesses skills in creating, servicing and manipulating communication networks, and is astute at identifying where in an organisation a decision in which she/he is interested would be made. They stand out in the public health literature on intersectoral collaboration like magicians given the powers to influence claimed for them.

They are ‘skilled conveners’ who appreciate the potential for mutual exchange and envision a mission which can be fulfilled through joint participation. Reticulist skills are associated too with boundary crossing and strategic thinking. Because of their ability to identify the key resource holders and fellow reticulists in their own and other agencies, reticulists may have an important role to perform – not least for public health. The role of the reticulist has been developed by a number of authors and applied to the development of inter-sectoral collaboration.

Boundary encounters are healthy for people and organisations – they avoid atrophy, groupthink and inbreeding, and offer new opportunities for learning, knowledge acquisition and windows on the world. (Williams, 2012)

Key references are:

Power, J. 1973 The reticulist function in government: Manipulating networks of communication and influence, Public Administration (Australia), 32(1): 21-27.

Degeling, P. 1995 The significance of ‘sectors’ in calls for urban public health intersectoralism: An Australian perspective, Policy and Politics, 23(4): 289-301.

Williams, P. 2012 Collaboration in public policy and practice. Bristol: The Policy Press.