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Research

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Publication details for Prof John Mawson

Mawson, J. & Pearce, G. (2009). Governance in the English Regions: moving beyond muddling through? International Journal of Public Sector Management 22(7): 623-641.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Purpose – The objective of this paper is to explore the progress of current reforms to government in the English regions through administrative decentralisation aimed at delivering economic growth and greater accountability.

Design/methodology/approach – In addition to government documents the paper is informed by the views of a range of public and non-governmental bodies on key aspects of the reforms, including the preparation of integrated regional strategies, accountability arrangements and institutional capacity.

Findings – While holding out the prospect of a more effective approach to regional policy making and delivery, implementation of the reforms carries risks for the delivery of key government policies. There is little evidence that they will assist in reversing disparities in economic growth rates between the English regions or tackle England's ingrained tradition of centralisation. There are also concerns that the prominence given to economic considerations is incompatible with delivering sustainable development.

Practical implications – Greater attention needs to be given to the coordination of national policies with a regional dimension and to the sub-national institutional capacity required to both prepare and deliver integrated regional strategies.

Originality/value – Drawing on empirical evidence this paper offers insights into the administrative and policy tensions associated with ongoing reforms to sub-national government in England.