Handbook on Theories of Governance
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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.
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Chapter 43: Metagovernance

Jacob Torfing


In order to reap the fruits of collaborative governance in networks, partnerships and relational contracting, the interactive governance arenas must be metagoverned. Metagovernance is defined as the “governance of governance” and involves deliberate attempts to facilitate, manage and direct interactive governance arenas without undermining their capacity for self-regulation too much. This chapter first looks at the emergence of metagovernance avant la lettre, and then provides an overview of the different theoretical approaches to the understanding of metagovernance. The theoretical discussion is followed by an attempt to clarify the analytical and practical value of the concept of metagovernance. The chapter goes on to identify different goals, tools and forms of metagovernance as a prelude to a discussion of administrative and political forms of metagovernance. The chapter then sets out some important metagovernance dilemmas and concludes, advancing some reflections on the need for further research.

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