Multi-level Governance

Multi-level governance: the process of connecting with higher and lower levels of society (from Europe to the street). It is a key process to travel across the borders of the different levels of the ecosystem.

Image: In general there are four layers of government (Imperial Blue*) – Union, Nation, Province and Municipality – for every citizen (Terra Cotta*), mostly with an almost pristine landscape (Pristine*) in between, due to lack of cooperation and synchronisation. The image is an artistic impression.

Multi-level governance is an approach in political science and public administration theory that originated from studies on European integration. According Piattoni1, professor at the University of Trento, the political scientists Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks actually developed the concept of multi-level governance in the early 1990s.

In 1996 Hooghe2 edited a sustained study of cohesion policy in the European Union. The central question is how policy makers can develop a common European policy, and yet give attention to the variation in practice, institutions, and players in the member states.

Later in 2001 Hooghe and Marks3 explain why multi-level governance has taken place and how it shapes conflict in national and European political arenas and go into the dual process of centralization and decentralization. At the same time that authority in many policy areas has shifted to the supranational level of the European Union, so national governments have given sub-national regions within countries more say over the lives of their citizens.



1 Piattoni, Simona (2009) Multi-level Governance: a Historical and Conceptual Analysis. European Integration. 31. 2: 163–180.

2 Hooghe, Liesbeth (ed.) (1996)  Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-level Governance. Wotton-under-Edge: Clarendon Press Oxford.

3 Hooghe, Liesbet and Gary Marks (2001) Multi-Level Governance and European Integration. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

* Pantone® colour.