Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis
Chapter 17: The Governance of Industrial Districts
Arnaldo Bagnasco 1. Governance: an old term with new meanings The term ‘governance’ is a word of great currency in the English language and is used sometimes as a near synonym of government and sometimes to refer to more specific meanings. The term ‘governance’ is generally employed to refer to the process of governing, of decision making and implementation and this is one possible meaning covered by government (Kooiman 2000 and Hindess 2001). When used in this way government also incorporates a concern for agency and players, for resources and for the dynamics that are influential in forming concrete decision making in social groups (Le Galès 2003). More recently, especially in the specialized language of social sciences, the two words tend to be carefully distinguished; this happens in particular in the study of complex action systems, such as international relations or city management. In such cases, if government involves acts of public authority and the exercise of functional institutions, then governance is a particularly appropriate term because it suggests that within the complex frameworks of contemporary societies even public policies are formulated through the direct participation of various public and private players who negotiate and reach agreements in order to ensure implementation. From this point of view, ‘government’, this time meaning public authority, becomes ‘one’ of the players involved in governance within contemporary social systems and assumes its own set of rules and resources. Thus, governance when used in this way also alludes to procedures that encompass new styles...
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