Governance and Intergovernmental Relations in the European Union and the United States
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Governance and Intergovernmental Relations in the European Union and the United States

Theoretical Perspectives

Edited by Edoardo Ongaro, Andrew Massey, Marc Holzer and Ellen Wayenberg

This book represents a major attempt to draw together two fundamental streams of research: intergovernmental relations and multi-level governance (MLG). Combining US and European schools of thought, this timely volume outlines key areas of convergence and divergence.
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Chapter 7: The Evolution of the Studies of the European Union MLG

Simona Piattoni


7. The evolution of the studies of European Union MLG Simona Piattoni INTRODUCTION: WHENCE THE NOTION OF GOVERNANCE Multi-level governance (MLG) is the term which describes the simultaneous activation of governmental and non-governmental actors at various jurisdictional levels. Although coined in the context of EU studies, it has in time acquired wide currency as it appears to capture dynamics that take place in many fields and many contexts. The discovery of governance may be plausibly dated back to the 1970s when public policy scholars began to notice that governmental authoritative decisions were not easily implemented. Even when governmental decisions seemed to command widespread consensus, problems fatally arose during implementation which stalled the process (Pressman and Wildavsky 1973). All sorts of different actors, that during the ideational phase of the policy process had agreed with the policy decisions, did not contribute (in time or at all) what they had promised. Funds evaporated, consensus faded, delays piled upon delays, and eventually goals were deflected and policies failed. Such entropic dissipation of resources at first engendered calls for a ‘fixer’ (Bardach 1977) – someone who could control the process and prevent it from derailing. Attention to policy implementation induced scholars to problematize the very notions of ‘policy’ and ‘policy actor’. What was previously conceived as an orderly sequence that neatly unfolded from decision to implementation, was now viewed as a much messier process along which issues, goals and instruments were continuously redefined and to which a plethora of governmental and non-governmental actors were simultaneously...

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