This background note from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) provides a detailed discussion of networks, including a broad definition and a description of their purpose and use.
The paper also provides an outline of the five network functions that the authors have identified and also five considerations that need to be taken into account when network planning.
Hearn, S., & Mendizabal, E. Overseas Development Institute (ODI), (2011). Not everything that connects is a network. Retrieved from website: http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/docs/6313.pdf