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Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Elgar original reference

Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn

Scholarship of multi-level governance has developed into one of the most innovative themes of research in political science and public policy. This accessible Handbook presents a thorough review of the wide-ranging literature, encompassing various theoretical and conceptual approaches to multi-level governance and their application to policy-making in domestic, regional and global contexts.

Chapter 18: Multi-modal Governance in North America

Stephen Clarkson

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


Stephen Clarkson Ever since the European Community emerged on the world stage, observers have been watching other continents for signs of regional development. Indeed, it is now not unusual to read such statements as ‘in January 1994, North America formally entered the club of world regions, launching the project of an integrated economic space.’1 Reflecting on the North America Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) first decade, the American political scientist Robert Pastor affirmed in a similar spirit that ‘[f]or the first time, “North America” is more than just a geographical expression,’ with NAFTA being ‘merely the first draft of an economic constitution for North America.’2 While it is intellectually tempting to join Pastor in visualizing North America as a world region, whose subsequent ‘drafts’ will approximate the sophisticated governance of the European Union (EU), this chapter’s subtext maintains that North America does not share a common DNA with Europe. Its main contention is that, as a recently constituted ‘world region,’ North America is not even a poster child for the multi-level governance, understood in our editors’ introductory words as a coherent set of nested policy regimes providing effective regulation with a satisfactory compliance rate (Smith 2000; Clarkson 2008). While each of its three member states’ politics can be analysed in terms of the standard ‘levels’ of the Mexican, American and Canadian federations (each having federal, state/provincial and municipal governments), this chapter argues that the ‘governance’ taking place across the borders of North America can best be understood in...

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