Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages

By Cugleşan, Natalia | Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review, July 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages


Cugleşan, Natalia, Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review


EDUARDO ONGARO (Ed.) Multi-level governance: The Missing Linkages Bingley, UK, Emerald Books, 2015, 352 pp.

Multi-level governance (MLG) is a theory which was advanced in the field of European Studies in the1990's by Gary Marks with the aim to introduce a conceptual label on the European Union (EU) and to theoretically explain the complex system of EU governance, transcending the classical intergovernmental and supranational debate. In the last twenty years, it has sparked great interest and became a highly employed analytical framework for researchers of EU Studies, but with time, it has expanded to other subfields of political science, with contributions which were not exclusively associated with the EU. Despite this great interest and vast publications, what has been overlooked in the scholarly literature, are the theoretical contributions; a large body of studies has questioned MLG for lacking the theoretical foundations, being labeled rather as a descriptive theory, or as an umbrella concept. With this book, Eduardo Ongaro joins the efforts of other scholars1 which have opened a new stage in the study and research of MLG, by tackling its theoretical weakness. In this context, this volume aims to contribute to the debate on the explanatory power of the theory and until now it is one of the few attempts to challenge systematically the theoretical shortcomings of MLG and propose alternative approaches to the study and practice of MLG.

This well written book brings together a group of researchers with excellent credentials from various fields, ranging from management, public administration, public policy, or political science. The editor of this volume, Eduardo Ongaro, is a scholar of comparative public governance and management at Northumbria University and holds an impressive publication record in the field of public administration and international management. Furthermore, this qualitative volume includes leading contributions from Simona Piattoni, a renowned political scientist with extensive research and seminal works in the field of MLG and continuing with a network of other scholars which are associated in different publication projects, like Anthony Zito, Adrian Schout, Keith Baker, Joyce Liddle and others.

The volume Multi-level governance. The Missing Linkages was prepared in the context of a research seminar organized in 2013 by Eduardo Ongaro at Northumbria University and published two years later (2015) by Emerald Books. Designed as a dialogue between scholars and practitioners2, the volume is structured in eleven chapters3 organized around specific themes. In the Introduction section, the editor explains the design of the book by mapping the current debate in the field of MLG and by explaining what is meant under "missing linkages" and placing the contribution of this book with reference to the academic literature.

The volume includes four chapters, which deal with the case of the European Union analyzed from an administrative management approach, while other chapters embark on analyzing the role of non-governmental actors such as Simone Baglioni's chapter on civil society, and sub-national actors (Joyce Liddle chapter on English sub-national actors, or Sabine Kuhlmann's comparative chapter) in a multi-level setting. The book also includes a valuable theoretical chapter, where Anthony Zito tackles the issue of the dependent and explanatory variables, with additional chapters contributing to developing the MLG research agenda such as Keith Baker's metagovernance concept applied to the issue of nuclear power in Britain, or the issue of political strategies by Duncan McTavish. The book ends with Oliver Hensengerth's chapter on China, while the chapter authored by Simona Piattoni meant as a Conclusion section, responds to the ideas brought forward in the key chapters and evaluates the overall contribution of the book.

The novelty of this volume rests on the idea of creating links between MLG and theories and models streaming from a variety of disciplines from the social sciences. …

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