Governance networks are one of the most debated and researched forms of interactive governance among governance theorists, and one of the key issues for debate has been the impact of governance networks on the form and functioning of democracy. There are three main positions on the issue: the worried, the hopeful and the enthusiastic. Each of them provides important insights that are valuable for the much needed future efforts to clarify how democratic governance can be understood and institutionalized at transnational, national and local levels of governance in an emerging reality.
Eva Sørensen and Jacob Torfing
In Chapter 21 Sørensen and Torfing deal with the concept of meta-governance. The concept of meta-governance provides, in their view, important insights into how public leaders and managers can govern the various arenas of collaborative governance. They critically reflect on the expanding research on meta-governance and argue that this literature tends to disregard the political aspects of meta-governance and neglects the specific role of politicians in meta-governing interactive governance arenas. In order to remedy this problem, Sørensen and Torfing set out some new ideas about how politicians can exercise vertical political leadership vis-à-vis horizontal networks by deploying some strictly political forms of meta-governance that enhance the democratic legitimacy of interactive governance. Their argument is based on a critical scrutiny of recent theories of meta-governance and political leadership.