Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-qj5tk Total loading time: 0.224 Render date: 2022-07-04T02:55:53.853Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Balancing a House of Cards: Throughput legitimacy in Canadian Governance Networks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2014

Carey Doberstein*
University of British Columbia—Okanagan
Heather Millar*
University of Toronto
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, University of British Columbia—Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna BC, V1V 1V7, email:
Sidney Smith Hall, Room 3018, 100 St. George St., University of Toronto, Toronto ON, M5S 3G3, email:


This article examines the interaction of different modes and levels of legitimacy within network governance institutions over time. Drawing on new theoretical directions in European governance studies and empirical findings from Canada, we contend that whereas input legitimacy can be exchanged, or traded-off, with output legitimacy to reinforce the overall legitimacy of a network governance institution, “throughput legitimacy” functions as a necessary condition that sustains legitimacy over time. Through a comparison of homelessness governance networks in Toronto and Calgary, we find that throughput legitimacy carries an amplification effect that results in either virtuous or vicious cycles. That is, we argue and demonstrate that low throughput legitimacy in network governance institutions can effectively bring down the whole house of cards.


Cet article vise l'interaction de différents modes et niveaux de légitimité comme partie des institutions administratves à travers le temps. En tirant d'exemple des nouvelles tendances dans des études europééns sur l'administrations et des conclusions empiriques venant du Canada, nous affirmons qu'étant donné la légitimité d'entrée puisse être échangée contre la légitimité de rendement afin de renforcer la légitimité globale d'une administration de réseau, la structure interne de l'administration fonctionne en étant une exigence absolue qui sert à maintenir la légitimité au long terme. Au moyen d'une comparaison des « sans-abris » et leurs réseaux d'administration à Toronto et Calgary, nous trouvons qu'une structure interne valable contient un effet d'amplification dont le résultat s'exprime en deux types de cycles ; virtueux or viscieux. C'est-à-dire, nous constatons et espérons démontrer qu'une basse légitimité dans l'administration des niveaux différents des institutions gouvernementales peut définitivement servir à démolir toute l'affaire.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


ACHSIP (Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons). 1997. “Minutes from the July 20, 1997 meeting.” Metro Toronto.Google Scholar
ACHSIP (Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons). 1998. “Minutes from the January 30, 1998 meeting.” Metro Toronto. ACHSIP (Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons). 1999. “Minutes from the January 22, 1999 meeting.” Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto.Google Scholar
ACHSIP (Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons). 2005. “Terms of Reference.” City of TorontoGoogle Scholar
ACHSIP (Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons). 2006. “Minutes from the April 24, 2006 meeting”, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto.Google Scholar
Andrew, Caroline and Doroleux, David. 2012. “Economic development, social inclusion and urban governance: The case of the city-region of Ottawa in Canada.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36 (6): 12881305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
ASAH (Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness). 2008. A Plan for Alberta: Ending Homelessness in Ten Years. Calgary. ASAH.Google Scholar
Bache, I. and Flinders, M.. 2004. Multi-level Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bakvis, Herman. “‘In the shadows of hierarchy’: Intergovernmental governance in Canada and the European Union.” Canadian Public Administration 56 (2): 203–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bell, Stephen, and Hindmoor, Andrew. 2009. Rethinking Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benz, Arthur. 2010. “Multilevel Parliaments in Canada and Europe.” International Journal 66: 109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benz, Arthur, and Papadopoulos, Yannis, eds. 2006. Governance and Democracy: Comparing National, European and International Experiences. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
Bovens, Mark. 2007. “New Forms of Accountability and EU-Governance.” Comparative European Politics 5 (1): 104–20, doi: 10.1057/palgrave.cep.6110101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradford, Neil. 2004Place Matters and Multi-level Governance: Perspectives on a New Urban Policy Paradigm.” Policy Options 25 (2): 3944.Google Scholar
Bradford, Neil. 2008 “Rescaling for a Generation? Canada's Urban Development Agreements.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Vancouver BC. June 4–6.Google Scholar
Bradford, Neil. 2012. “The Federal ‘Communities Agenda’: Metagovernance for Place-based Policy in Canada.” In Canada in Cities: The Politics and Policy of Federal-Local Governance, ed. Andrew, Caroline and Graham, Katherine A. H.. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's Press.Google Scholar
CAC (Calgary Action Committee on Housing and Homelessness). 2010. Terms of Reference. (January 13, 2014).Google Scholar
CAC (Calgary Action Committee on Housing and Homelessness). 2012. CAC Social Policy Consultation What We Heard. (January 13, 2014).Google Scholar
CAC (Calgary Action Committee on Housing and Homelessness). 2013. CACHH Framework, August 2013. (January 13, 2014).Google Scholar
CBC News . 2008. “Calgary needs $3.2B to end homelessness: Committee.” January 29 (January 13, 2014).Google Scholar
CHF (Calgary Homeless Foundation). 2011a. Calgary's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness 2008-2018: January 2011 Update. Calgary:CHF.Google Scholar
CHF (Calgary Homeless Foundation). 2011b. Making Research Matter: A Progress Report on Calgary's Research Agenda to End Homelessness. Calgary: CHF.Google Scholar
Calgary Herald . 2007. “CEOs promise homeless solution.” January 10, 2007 (January 13, 2014).Google Scholar
Doberstein, Carey. 2011. “Institutional Creation and Death: Urban Development Agreements in Canada.” Journal of Urban Affairs 33 (5): 529–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Doberstein, Carey. 2012. “Applying European Ideas on Federalism and Doing It Better? The Government of Canada's Homelessness Policy Experiment.” Canadian Public Policy 38 (3): 395410.Google Scholar
Doberstein, Carey. 2013. “Metagovernance of local governance networks in Canada: In pursuit of legitimacy and accountability.” Canadian Public Administration 56 (4): 584609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Falvo, N. 2010. “Homelessness, Toronto's Streets to Homes Program.” In Finding Home: Policy Options for Addressing Homelessness in Canada, ed. Hulchanski, J. David, Campsie, Philipa, Chau, Shirley, Hwang, Stephen and Paradis, Emily, Toronto: Cities Centre, University of Toronto. (June 25, 2013).Google Scholar
Finke, Barbara. 2007. “Civil Society Participation in EU Governance.” Living Reviews in European Governance 2. doi: 10.12942/lreg-2007-2. (May 13, 2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grande, Edgar, and Pauly, Louis W.. 2005. Complex sovereignty: Reconstituting political authority in the twenty-first century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greenwood, Justin. 2007. “Organized Civil Society and Democratic Legitimacy in the European Union.” British Journal of Political Science 37 (02): 333–57. doi: 10.1017/S0007123407000166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haas, Peter. 1992. “Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination.” International Organization 46 (1) (January 1): 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heritier, A. and Rhodes, M. 2011. New Modes of Governance in Europe: Governing in the Shadow of Hierarchy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hooghe, L. and Marks, G.. 2003. “Unraveling the Central States, But How? Types of Multi-level Governance.” American Political Science Review 97 (2): 233–43.Google Scholar
Horak, Martin. 2010. “Understanding neighbourhood revitalization in Toronto.” Paper presented at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, June 1-3, Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
Horak, Martin and Young, Robert, eds. 2012. Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada's Big Cities. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.Google Scholar
Howlett, Michael. 2000. “Managing the ‘hollow state’: Procedural policy instruments and modern governance.” Canadian Public Administration 43 (4): 412–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kohler-Koch, Beate. 2010a. “How to Put Matters Right? Assessing the Role of Civil Society in EU Accountability.” West European Politics 33 (5): 1117–41. doi: 10.1080/01402382.2010.486141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kohler-Koch, Beate. 2010b. “Civil Society and EU Democracy: ‘Astroturf’ Representation?” Journal of European Public Policy 17 (1): 100–16. doi: 10.1080/13501760903464986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kohler-Koch, Beate and Rittberger, Berthold. 2006. “Review Article: The ‘Governance Turn’ in EU Studies.” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 44 (S1): 2749. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5965.2006.00642.x.Google Scholar
Laforest, Rachel. 2013. “Shifting scales of governance and civil society participation in Canada and the European Union.” Canadian Public Administration 56 (2): 235–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laforest, Rachel, and Orsini, Michael. 2005. “Evidence-Based Engagement in the Voluntary Sector: Lessons from Canada.” Social Policy and Administration 39 (5): 481–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laforest, Rachel, and Phillips, Susan. 2007. “Citizen Engagement: Rewiring the Policy Process.” In Critical Policy Studies, ed. Orsini, Michael and Smith, Miriam. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
Levesque, M. 2012. “Mapping a way forward: Interest group selection and roles performed in engagement processes.” Canadian Public Administration 55 (4), 531–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lindgren, Karl-Oskar, and Persson, Thomas. 2010. “Input and Output Legitimacy: Synergy or Trade-off? Empirical Evidence from an EU Survey.” Journal of European Public Policy 17 (4): 449–67, doi: 10.1080/13501761003673591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mascarenhas, M. and Scarce, R.. 2004. “‘The intention was good’: Legitimacy, consensus-based decision making, and the case of forest planning in British Columbia, Canada.” Society and natural resources 17 (1): 1738.Google Scholar
Millar, Heather. 2013. “Comparing Accountability Relationships between Governments and Non-state Actors in Canadian and European International Development Policy.” Canadian Public Administration 56 (2): 252–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montpetit, Éric. 2008. “Policy Design for Legitimacy: Expert Knowledge, Citizens, Time and Inclusion in the United Kingdom's Biotechnology Sector.” Public Administration 86 (1): 259–77, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2007.00698.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montpetit, Éric. 2003. “Public consultations in policy network environments: The case of assisted reproductive technology policy in Canada. Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques 29 (1): 95110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ostrom, V., Bish, R. and Ostrom, E.. 1998. Local government in the United States. San Francisco: ICS Press.Google Scholar
Papadopoulos, Yannis. 2007. “Problems of Democratic Accountability in Network and Multilevel Governance.” European Law Journal 13 (4): 469–86. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0386.2007.00379.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pierre, Jon. 1998. Partnerships in Urban Governance: European and American Experience. London: MacMillan Press Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Risse, T. and Kleine, M.. 2007. “Assessing the Legitimacy of the EU's Treaty Revision Methods.” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 45 (1), 6980.Google Scholar
Scharpf, Fritz Wilhelm. 1999. Governing in Europe: Effective and Democratic? Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmidt, Vivien A. 2013. “Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and ‘Throughput.’” Political Studies 61 (1): 222, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00962.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skogstad, Grace. 2003a. “Who Governs? Who Should Govern? Political Authority and Legitimacy in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.” Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 36 (05): 955–73, doi: 10.1017/S0008423903778925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skogstad, Grace. 2003b. “Legitimacy and/or policy effectiveness? Network governance and GMO regulation in the European Union.” Journal of European Public Policy 10 (3), 321–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sorensen, Eva and Torfing, J.. 2007Introduction: Governance Network Research: Towards a Second Generations.” In Theories of Democratic Network Governance, ed. Sorensen, E. and Torfing, J.., London: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tanasescu, Alina. 2010. “Learnings from Calgary's 10-Year Plan Implementation.” Presentation to the Alliance to End Homelessness, Ottawa ON, November 19.Google Scholar
Tömmel, Ingeborg, and Verdun, Amy, eds. 2009. Innovative Governance in the European Union: The Politics of Multilevel Policymaking. Boulder CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. 1998. “State of Emergency Declaration: An Urgent Call for Humanitarian Relief and Prevention Measures.” Toronto: Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.Google Scholar
van Meerkerk, Ingmar., Edelenbos, J., and Klijn, E.H.. 2014. “Connective management and governance network performance: The mediating role of throughput legitimacy. Findings from survey research on complex water projects in the Netherlands.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 32, 000-000 (advance online publication).Google Scholar
Wolfe, David A. 2009. Twenty-first Century Cities in Canada: The Geography of Innovation. Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada.Google Scholar
Verdun, Amy and Wood, Donna E.. 2013. “Governing the social dimension in Canadian federalism and European integration.” Canadian Public Administration 56 (2): 173–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Young, Robert and Leuprecht, Christian. 2006. Municipal-Federal-Provincial Relations in Canada. Institute for Intergovernmental Relations. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Balancing a House of Cards: Throughput legitimacy in Canadian Governance Networks
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Balancing a House of Cards: Throughput legitimacy in Canadian Governance Networks
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Balancing a House of Cards: Throughput legitimacy in Canadian Governance Networks
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *