Governing at arm's length: eroding or enhancing democracy?

Chris Skelcher, Catherine Durose, Jonathan Justice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
441 Downloads (Pure)


This review article debates the democratic consequences of arm's length governance challenging the prevailing view that its use is necessarily counter-democratic and a poor substitute for direct control by elected politicians. The article explores the roots of the dominant 'democratic deficit' perspective on arm's length bodies in the agency problems generated by political delegation, but also addresses the potential for democratic enhancement posed by the different theoretical lens of polycentrism. The article considers the conditions that are necessary to activate citizens to engage with arm's length governance. Our conclusion develops the normative implications for the design of public governance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy and politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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