Government, Governance and Welfare Reform
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Government, Governance and Welfare Reform

Structural Changes and Subsidiarity in Italy and Britain

Edited by Alberto Brugnoli and Alessandro Colombo

This unique and original book focuses on institutional changes, welfare reforms and transformations in both Britain and Italy over the last three decades.
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Chapter 9: Horizontal subsidiarity in Lombardy and the UK: decentralization, partnership and governance of welfare


At the core of the Lombardy model lies ‘an original interpretation of the concept of subsidiarity’ (Colombo, 2008: 182). Subsidiarity (like governance: see below) must be a candidate for ‘weasel words, contemporary clichés, cant and management jargon’ (Watson, 2005) as its use/definition ratio is very high, and its marginal returns to use must be declining fast. As if problems of defining and operationalizing subsidiarity were not enough, similar themes can be found in diverse literatures associated with sometimes similarly poorly-defined terms such as governance, multilevel governance, hollowing out, networks, partnerships, joined-up government, privatization, the purchaser/provider split, the enabling state, quasi-market, decentralization, new public management, mixed economy of welfare, welfare pluralism and associational welfare (see Powell and Hewitt (2002) for a discussion of some of these terms).

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