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Unraveling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-level Governance


The reallocation of authority upward, downward, and sideways from central states has drawn attention from a growing number of scholars in political science. Yet beyond agreement that governance has become (and should be) multi-level, there is no consensus about how it should be organized. This article draws on several literatures to distinguish two types of multi-level governance. One type conceives of dispersion of authority to general-purpose, nonintersecting, and durable jurisdictions. A second type of governance conceives of task-specific, intersecting, and flexible jurisdictions. We conclude by specifying the virtues of each type of governance.For comments and advice we are grateful to Christopher Ansell, Ian Bache, Richard Balme, Arthur Benz, Tanja Börzel, Renaud Dehousse, Burkard Eberlein, Peter Hall, Edgar Grande, Richard Haesly, Bob Jessop, Beate Kohler-Koch, David Lake, Patrick Le Galés, Christiane Lemke, David Lowery, Michael McGinnis, Andrew Moravcsik, Elinor Ostrom, Franz U. Pappi, Thomas Risse, James Rosenau, Alberta Sbragia, Philippe Schmitter, Ulf Sverdrup, Christian Tusschoff, Bernhard Wessels, the political science discussion group at the University of North Carolina, and the editor and three anonymous reviewers of APSR. We received institutional support from the Center for European Studies at the University of North Carolina, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung in Berlin. Earlier versions were presented at the European Union Studies Association meeting, the ECPR pan-European Conference in Bordeaux, and Hannover Universität, Harvard University, Humboldt Universität, Indiana University at Bloomington, Mannheim Universität, Sheffield University, Sciences Po (Paris), Technische Universität München, and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The authors' names appear in alphabetical order.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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