Interactive governance arenas such as networks and partnerships are increasingly seen as legitimate and valuable contributions to the production of effective public governance. This effectiveness is not least seen as a result of the self-constituting and self-regulating character of such arenas. There is less certainty about their impact on democracy. Many governance researchers worry that networks and partnerships will end up reducing the level of democratic inclusion, deliberation and accountability in the political system because they demand a low level of formal or ‘hard’ institutionalization. Neo-institutional theory points out, however, the considerable regulatory impact of ‘soft’ forms of institutionalization such as incentives structures, sedimented normative codes, logics of appropriateness and routinized practices. The article explores the role that soft forms of institutionalization might play in ensuring democratic inclusion, deliberation and accountability in relation to interactive governance arenas and considers how they can be used to enhance the democratic quality of such arenas through metagovernance.
Critical Policy Studies, 2013, Vol 7, Issue 1, p. 72-86