Table of Contents

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.

Chapter 33: Normative theory

Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


There have often been high hopes for the contribution of interactive governance to the realization of normative goals. In this chapter we investigate whether these normative goals are actually met in real life governance processes. In the literature one can distinguish three main normative goals: interactive governance strives for enhancing efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy. However, these goals are not realized without problems and tensions. Interactive governance needs a great deal of capacity and resources and is therefore costly and time-consuming. Moreover, there is the danger of symbolic stakeholder involvement in which real dialogue and results are not achieved. Finally, valuable input is often neglected, and there are issues with vertical accountability. Whether the high hopes are met depends on how the main three issues of inclusiveness, throughput legitimacy and accountability are resolved.

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