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Disentangling Scale Approaches in Governance Research: Comparing Monocentric, Multilevel, and Adaptive Governance

Catrien J.A.M. Termeer, Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University
Art Dewulf, Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University
Maartje van Lieshout, Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University

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The question of how to govern the multiscale problems in today’s network society is an important topic in the fields of public administration, political sciences, and environmental sciences. How scales are defined, studied, and dealt with varies substantially within and across these fields. This paper aims to reduce the existing conceptual confusion regarding scales by disentangling three representative approaches that address both governance and scaling: monocentric governance, multilevel governance, and adaptive governance. It does so by analyzing the differences in (1) underlying views on governing, (2) assumptions about scales, (3) dominant problem definitions regarding scales, and (4) preferred responses for dealing with multiple scales. Finally, this paper identifies research opportunities within and across these approaches.

Key words

adaptive governance; levels; monocentric governance; multilevel governance; scale mismatch; scaling
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087