Multilevel Governance in Cities

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Martin Horak (reference below, p. 339) defines multilevel governance as a mode of policy making that involves complex interactions among multiple levels of government and social forces.

Horak concludes his review of multilevel governance in big Canadian cities with (p. 353):

“… the functional requirements of multilevel governance in Canada’s big cities are at odds with the current constitutional division of authority in the country. It is not so much the specific division of responsibility among levels of government that is the problem; rather as Hooghe and Marks (2003) observe, the problem is the very notion that governance consists of nested layers of authority, each with its own separate sphere of policy concerns. Multilevel governance as it has emerged in Canada’s big cities rests on the opposite premise: that the policy concerns of nested layers of authority in the Canadian federal system are interdependent and thus require ongoing multilevel coordination.

“…what is required is the willingness of government agents at various levels to institutionalize multilevel governance de facto. Many of the multilevel policy successes … hinge on the development of collaboration agreements or collaborative institutions that limit inter-agent transaction costs and help manage the agenda instability that so often threatens the sustainability of multilevel policy initiatives. To paraphrase American urban politics theorist Clarence Stone (1993), learning to let go of “power over” other agents and replace it with collective “power to” address complex policy challenges is key to unlocking the positive potential of multilevel governance in Canada’s big cities.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Municipal Governance (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Martin Horak (2012), Conclusion: Understanding Multilevel Governance in Canada’s Cities, in Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada’s Big Cities, eds. Martin Horak and Robert Young, pp. 339-370. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Horak cites in the quotes above:

Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks (2003), Unravelling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-level Governance, American Political Science Review, 97(2):233-43.

Clarence Stone (1993), Urban Regimes and the Capacity to Govern: A Political Economy Approach, Journal of Urban Affairs 15(1):1-28.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 29 September 2016.