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Is Enabling Enough? Tensions and Dilemmas in New Labour's Strategies for Joining-up Local Governance

Sullivan, Helen


Helen Sullivan


Central to New Labour's ambition to transform public policy and public services was the development of joined-up government’. This article considers the experience of joining-up’ at the local level, through one programme of reform, the ‘local government modernisation agenda’ (LGMA). Drawing on published research from evaluations of the LGMA this article argues that three key strategies for joining-up’ locally are evident in the policies of the LGMA: empowerment, endorsement and enticement. Each strategy contains a particular vision of joined-up’ local governance and what should shape it. However in practice each strategy was diluted, undermined or challenged by the existence of alternative perspectives. The article proposes that there are powerful undercurrents within the policy environment that help explain these tensions, in particular the desire of some interests to maintain prevailing central-local relations. It also highlights cross-currents that might have a greater impact on the potential for realising joined-up’ local governance such as the comprehensive performance assessment. The article concludes with some reflections on which strategy is most likely to be effective in the current policy and political environment and examines the ‘fit’ of newer policy instruments such as Local Area Agreements with this proposed strategy. © 2005, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.


Sullivan, H. (2005). Is Enabling Enough? Tensions and Dilemmas in New Labour's Strategies for Joining-up Local Governance. Public Policy and Administration, 20(4), 10-24.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2005
Journal Public Policy and Administration
Print ISSN 0952-0767
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 10-24
Keywords New Labour, local governance
Public URL
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