Policy & Politics July 2015 Special Issue: Scale and Scaling of Interactive Governance

David Sweeting
David Sweeting

by David Sweeting, Associate Editor, Policy & Politics

A truly international edition of Policy & Politics is now available electronically and in print. Comprising authors based in Europe, the US, Australia, Hong Kong, and Brazil, the contributions in this Special Issue illuminate issues pertaining to collaboration and networks, all under the banner of ‘scale and scaling of interactive governance’. Edited by Chris Ansell and Jacob Torfing – both plenary speakers at the 2014 Policy & Politics conference – the contributions in the volume individually and collectively live up to the journal’s aim to advance knowledge in social and public policy.

In the words of the guest editors the articles investigate ‘the scalar dimensions of collaborative governance and explore the challenges of operating at a single scale, across scales or at multiple scales and of moving between scales’.  Ansell and Torfing open the issue by offering a framework for understanding the dimensions of the debate with reference to temporal, geographic, and functional scales, and by considering membership, interaction, and strategic horizons within each of these elements.

In the first of the empirical contributions to the issue, Eva Sørensen, Peter Triantafillou and Bodil Damgaard use a framework of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration to study the meta-governance of EU employment policy. They consider that while the formulation phase of this policy entails some collaboration, the implementation phase however tends towards cooperation and coordination. An original ‘web crawler’ technique is used by Kerstin Sahlin, Filip Wijkström, Lisa Dellmuth, Torbjörn Einarsson, and Achim Oberg in their study of transnational university governance. This contribution highlights the role of intermediary organisations within such networks and their role in transferring and translating ideas amongst and across the constellations in the field. Chris Ansell’s piece also has a transnational perspective in that it takes as its focus global diseases and the networks – both local and global – that respond to them.

Many studies in this area tend to be qualitative in nature. However, Asim Zia, Christopher Koliba, Jack Meek, and Anna Schulz instead use a quantitative approach to understanding collaborative governance. They perform regression analysis on data drawn from a National Survey of Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the US explore the relationship between scale and performance management gaps. Ben Farr-Wharton also takes a quantitative approach. This piece, however, looks at the grass-roots networks created by creative industry workers in order to provide mutual support. Noting that such networks have become up-scaled, and drawing on a survey data and structural equation modelling from 271 respondents, he explores questions around network conditions and impacts.

Esther Conrad instead focuses on the role of network managers. In a case study of water governance in California, and noting the interplay between network and hierarchical forms of governance, Conrad finds that network managers can broker across interests, develop processes and support development to both facilitate learning and to satisfy hierarchical requirements. Again picking up the role of network managers, Charles Kirschbaum uses the case of the ‘Brazil Grows Together’ programme to argue that rescaling can be seen as a response to network failure, as key stakeholders become alienated and collaboration becomes ‘impoverished’. Eliza W.Y. Lee and Juan Manuel Restrepo consider questions of scaling up in relation to institutional embeddedness. Again using a single case, they focus on an international NGO in Hong Kong to illustrate how scaling up can occur from the local level, and in doing so considering much broader issues such as societal, network, and territorial embeddedness.

Overall the issue is a cohesive and compelling collection and is likely to become required reading for scholars in this field.

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