My academic writing has become influenced by my non-academic reading. The literature around giving presentations has had an effect, with the focus on the effectiveness of 'story' proving very persuasive.This has two significant impacts on my research. It should influence the way I write (more of this in a later post) and on the project's theoretical framework. Bevir and Richards (2009, p.132) describe "networks as the product of individuals acting on their beliefs and the stories they tell one another". If stories are to be a major research subject this suggests an emphasis on qualitative methods to gain a deep understanding of them. As well as providing a method for investigating actors? behaviour, network stories can also act as useful outputs for policy practitioners. Public policy often has 'toolkits' with which a network manager can attempt to reach the optimum outcome. However, in a system where there is great uncertainty, this technocratic approach gives a specious sense of precision to the consequences of actions prompted by following a toolkit approach. Bevir and Richards (2009, p.138) use this to justify storytelling as an alternative method of network management, focusing on the creation of meaning by individuals as a way of discovering possible courses of action. Psychology literature has identified that humans gain a better understanding of situations through storytelling, this could prove to be a more effective way of engaging those within a network than a more abstract empirical approach. A familiar challenge arises from these arguments: how to avoid anything other than a series of deep but unrelated case studies which cannot be replicated. Can there be a 'recentred' account providing generalisations without relying on structures or exogenous factors for explanation? Bevir and Richards (p.140) highlight traditions, beliefs and power as explanatory concepts which can facilitate this task. At this point, I?m still working through the implications of the decentred approach. Here?s one possible way to think about it: a positivist account would use the experience of? case study to generate generalised laws of network behaviour. A decentred account still takes a detailed case study as its basis, but uses this to tell stories about network behaviour. These add to the accumulated knowledge of policy makers without assuming the status of a general model or theory. Policy makers are then able to use this knowledge in making decisions in their own particular circumstances.