An approach to the coordinated sharing and exchange of information among autonomous components adhering to common models, standards and protocols. Though complex and potentially hard to manage (requiring management of common architectural components and relations between federated components), this approach can better support emergent, collaborative solutions addressing complex, adaptive problems.
Because of an emphasis on shared models, and the simultaneous but sometimes conflicting goals of maximizing autonomy and information sharing, a federated architecture requires strong network governance. These principles are relevant to the need/role of backbone functions in supporting collective impact.
Unlike simple “hub and spoke” networks where information flow can be impeded by bottlenecks, federated or distributed networks support multiple pathways of information flow to and from members, illustrated in the images below.