Multi-level governance

Symbol multi-level governance. © Jack P. Kruf

Jack P. Kruf

Multi-level governance is an approach in political science and public administration theory that originated from studies on European integration. According Piattoni (2001) the political scientists Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks actually developed the concept of multi-level governance in the early 1990’s. 

It has become one of the key processes for good public governance in international context. In fact always was, but never defined or considered as such. The link between all levels of governance in every ecosystem is essential to be effective and efficient in its functioning. The layering of governance seems in general to follow the principles of the ecological pyramid in natural ecosystems, so some logic can be derived. It must be said though, that from the perspective of city management, there is a wide range of opinions, feelings, views and thoughts around it. It exists, but is not generally accepted as the best way forward. What is multi-level governance?

Multi-level (or multilevel) governance is a term used to describe the way power is spread vertically between many levels of government and horizontally across multiple quasi-government and non-governmental organizations and actors. 

Cairney et al. (2019)

This situation develops because many countries have multiple levels of government including local, regional, statenational or federal, and many other organisations with interests in policy decisions and outcomes. International governance also operates based on multi-level governance principles. 

Wikipedia

In 1996 Hooghe edited a sustained study of cohesion policy in the European Union. The central question was how policy makers can develop a common European policy, and yet give attention to the variation in practice, institutions, and players in the member states. 

Later in 2001 Hooghe et al. (2001) explain why multi-level governance has taken place and how it shapes conflict in national and European political arenas and go into the dual process of centralization and decentralization. At the same time that authority in many policy areas has shifted to the supranational level of the European Union, so national governments have given sub-national regions within countries more say over the lives of their citizens. 

At the forefront of scholars who characterize this dual process as multi-level governance, Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks argue that its emergence in the second half of the twentieth century is a watershed in the political development of Europe. According the authors it gives expression to the idea that there are many interacting authority structures at work in the emergent global political economy: “… illuminates the intimate entanglement between the domestic and international levels of authority”.

Bibliography

Cairney, P., Heikkila, T. and Wood, Matthew (2019). Making Policy in a Complex World (1 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hooghe, Liesbeth (ed.) (1996) Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-level Governance. Wotton-under-Edge: Clarendon Press Oxford.

Hooghe, Liesbet and Gary Marks (2001) Multi-Level Governance and European Integration. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Piattoni, Simona (2009) Multi-level Governance: a Historical and Conceptual Analysis. European Integration. 31. 2: 163–180. 

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