How policy networks can damage democratic health: A case study in the government of governance

  • Greenaway J
  • Salter B
  • Hart S
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This article examines a detailed case study of implementation networks in England using the example of the relocation of the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, which became a flagship PFI project for the Labour government after 1997. The case study illustrates the workings of the new order of multi-layered governance with both local and national networks from different policy areas interacting. However, it also sheds light on the governance debate and illustrates how in the world of new public management, powerful actors, or policy entrepreneurs, with their own agenda, still have the facility, by exercising power and authority, to shape and determine the policy outputs through implementation networks. It is argued that, whereas policy networks are normally portrayed as enriching and promoting pluralist democratic processes, implementation networks in multi-layered government can also undermine democratic accountability. Four aspects here are pertinent: (1) the degree of central government power; (2) local elite domination; (3) the fragmentation of responsibility; and (4) the dynamics of decision making which facilitates the work of policy entrepreneurs. All these factors illustrate the importance of 'the government of governance' in the British state.

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  • John Greenaway

  • Brian Salter

  • Stella Hart

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