Something old, something new, something borrowed ... How institutions change (and stay the same) in local governance

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Local governance is conceptualised as an 'institutional matrix', comprising distinct (but interacting) rule-sets, in which forces for change and continuity coexist. Different rule-sets change at different rates and in different directions, reflecting power relationships and the 'embeddedness' of local governance in specific historical and spatial contexts. In England, inertia and innovation have characterised, respectively, the political and managerial domains of local governance. But it is clear that creative spaces also exist between the extremes of institutional stability and volatility. Institutional entrepreneurs exploit ambiguities in the 'rules of the game' in order to respond to changing environments, and to protect (or further) their own interests. Local government actors expand and recombine their institutional repertoires through strategies of 'remembering', 'borrowing' and 'sharing'. In so doing they create a contingent and context-dependent process of institutional emergence.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

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