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The metagovernance of English devolution

Bailey, Daniel and Wood, Matthew (2017) The metagovernance of English devolution. Local Government Studies, 43 (6). pp. 966-991. ISSN 0300-3930


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Metagovernance refers to a theory of how governments steer decentralised networks by indirectly shaping the rules and norms of those networks. This article develops metagovernance conceptually and empirically by looking at the use of ‘hands-off’ metagovernance tools in the case of English devolution, which encompass the ‘designing’ and ‘framing’ of local governance networks in the process of their reconfiguration. These concepts provide insights into how a Conservative-led Coalition Government subtly centralised power in the process of devolution to city-regions. Our analysis shows how discursive framing, fiscal conditioning and the recomposition of local governance networks produced a reworking of centre-local and intra-local power relations in a way which allowed the Treasury to shape the priorities of a set of ‘devolution deals’ with regional authorities, emphasising boosting economic growth and improving public services.

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