Multi-Level Governance

Multi-Level Governance

Multi-Level Governance

Multi-Level Governance

Synopsis

The power and future role of nation states are a topic of increasing importance. The dispersion of authority both vertically to supranational and subnational institutions and horizontally to non-state actors has challenged the structure and capacity of national governments. Multi-level governance has emerged as an important concept for understanding the dynamic relationships between state and non-state actors within territorially overarching networks. Multi-level Governance explores definitions and applications of the concept by drawing on contributions from scholars with different concerns within the broad discipline of Political Studies. It contends that new analytical frameworks that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and epistemological positions are essential for comprehending the changing nature of governance. In this context, this volume undertakes a critical assessment of both the potentialities and the limitations of multi-level governance.

Excerpt

In a world where groups, organizations, and countries are simultaneously fragmenting and integrating, where the two contrary forces are pervasive, interactive, and feed on each other, are the resulting tensions subject to governance? If the deaths of time, distance, and sequentiality are taken seriously, can they operate as stimuli to a renewal of creative thought about what governance may mean in the twenty-first century? Can multi-level governance serve as a prime mechanism to steer the tensions in constructive directions? Except for qualifying the 'multi-level' concept, the ensuing chapter answers these questions in the affirmative and addresses them in the context of continuing processes that are disaggregating authority, rendering traditional boundaries increasingly obsolete, and fostering strong and widespread demands for governance.

To understand the extensive demands for governance one needs to appreciate the distinction between governance and government. Both governance and government consist of rule systems, of steering mechanisms through which authority is exercised in order to enable the governed to preserve their coherence and move towards desired goals. The rule systems of governments (local, regional, national, and international) can be thought of as formal structures, as institutions for addressing diverse issues that confront the people within their purview. Governance, on the other hand, is a broader concept. It refers to any collectivity, private or public, that employs informal as well as formal steering mechanisms to make demands, frame goals, issue directives, pursue policies, and generate compliance (Rosenau 1997). Thus governance consists of rule systems that perform or implement social functions or processes in a variety of ways at different times and places (or even at the same time) by a wide variety of organizations. Unlike governments, governance is not obliged to range across a wide variety of issues; often it does, but there are many governance processes that are single-issue in scope—as emphasized by Hooghe and Marks (Chapter 2 , this volume). Viewing the government-governance distinction in this way, and influenced by the example of the European Union (EU), my qualification of the concept of multi-level governance is to regard it as referring exclusively

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