Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance
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Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Self-organization and Participation in Public Governance

Edited by Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

In many countries, government and society have undergone a major shift in recent years, now tending toward ‘smaller government’ and ‘bigger society’. This development has lent increased meaning to the notion of interactive governance, a concept that this book takes not as a normative ideal but as an empirical phenomenon that needs constant critical scrutiny, reflection and embedding in modern societies.
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Chapter 21: Political leadership in the age of interactive governance: reflections on the political aspects of metagovernance

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.

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