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by Professor Paul Cairney
Understanding Public Policy (in 1000 and 500 words)

Policy in 500 Words: multi-centric policymaking

Description

The second of a series of podcasts tying together multiple 500 Words posts. They’ll sound a bit different from the 1000 Words podcasts because I recorded them in front of our MPP students (although, just to confuse you, this podcasts connects to a 1000 Word post) .

This brief lecture is on multi-centric policymaking, as described fully in Making Policy in a Complex World.

From Policy Concept in 1000 Words: Multi-centric Policymaking

Many theories in this 1000 words series describe multiple policymaking venues. They encourage us to give up on the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful national central government. Instead, there are many venues in which to make authoritative choices, each contributing to what we call policy.

The word ‘multi-centric’ (coined by Professor Tanya Heikkila, with me and Dr Matt Wood) does not suggest that every venue is of equal importance or power. Rather, it prompts us not to miss something important by focusing too narrowly on one single (alleged) centre of authority.

To some extent, multi-centric policymaking results from choice. Many federal political systems have constitutions that divide power between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, or give some protection to subnational governments. Many others have become ‘quasi-federal’ more organically, by sharing responsibilities with supranational and subnational governments. In such cases, there is explicit choice to distribute power and share responsibility for making policy (albeit with some competition to assert power or shuffle-off responsibility).

However, for the most part, this series helps explain the necessity of multi-centric policymaking ...

For more, see Policy Concept in 1000 Words: Multi-centric Policymaking

Details

Episode 2

by Professor Paul Cairney