Making Multilevel Governance Work

Effective multilevel governance is critical to democracy in most societies throughout the world.

Learning how to manage multilevel governance relationships has been a very important consequence of European integration. Nevertheless, there is inevitable overlap and confusion because of the increasing complexity of government and the ambiguity of boundaries. Alongside this, improving the democratic engagement of European citizens has been an important element of European integration, not least in the Treaty of Lisbon. However there continue to be significant issues of legitimacy and effectiveness of existing democratic arrangements.

These challenges have been particularly apparent in the implementation of Regional Policy and in the management of the structural funds. In 2014-20, the requirement of Smart Specialisation ex ante conditionality has given regional authorities a more important role, drawing on local expertise, strengthening local ownership of plans, and recognising how local context affects implementation. Yet some regions (and Member States) have struggled to use the new instruments and processes properly, and it is now recognised that improving the quality of regional governance is essential for the achievement of the objectives of Regional Policy, and in linking people in communities with national and European decision-making. 

Similar issues with respect to multilevel governance exist in Australia. The federal system provides constitutional parameters for the national and state governments but is entirely silent on the role and functioning of local and regional authorities. Blurred responsibilities at all levels mean that various institutional arrangements with varying authority and capability have been established, often weakest in peripheral regions in Australia.

This project will explore the conditions under which it seems to be most successful, and how this affects citizen support for and engagement with democratic processes, through comparison of experiences of regional governance in Europe and Australia.

Objectives

This project analyses the comparative experience of regional governance in Europe and Australia, with three aims:

  • generating new knowledge about multilevel governance, and particularly about the appropriate roles and capabilities at different levels for various purposes, that can contribute to policy and program development in Europe and Australia;  
  • resources to support learning in both formal settings such as tertiary courses (in a variety of disciplines) but also for use in various public learning environments; and  
  • engaging with citizens and government representatives on strategies to improve effective governance at different levels.

People

  • Professor Bruce Wilson, RMIT University
  • Professor Lars Coenen, Western Norway University of
  • Professor Leo Goedegebuure, University of Melbourne
  • Ms Anne McNaughton, Australian National university
  • Ms Karen Cain, Latrobe Valley Authority
  • Dr Chloe Ward, DJPR and RMIT University
aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.