Public Organization Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 49–70 | Cite as

The Cultural Dimension of Metagovernance: Why Governance Doctrines May Fail



National cultures often reflect a preference for one of the ideal-types hierarchical, network or market governance. A comparison of four similar policy cases in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission reveals that successful public managers under certain conditions are able to construct and design productive mixtures of the three styles. They applied metagovernance, a process of designing and managing situationally optimal combinations of the three competing, and to an extent mutually undermining, governance styles. Their national cultures and politico-administrative traditions co-determined the governance mixture which would work in a given situation. The research reinforces the case already made by others, that governance doctrines cannot be transferred as ‘best practices’ from one nation to another without adaptation. The article suggests that the future does not lie in inventing new management and governance doctrines, but in investing in post-dogmatic public management.


Metagovernance Culture Governance styles Hierarchical governance Network governance Market governance 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advisory Council for Research on Spatial Planning, Nature and the Environment (RMNO)The HagueThe Netherlands

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