Developing a regional governance index: the institutional potential of rural regions

Morrison, T.H. (2014) Developing a regional governance index: the institutional potential of rural regions. Journal of Rural Studies, 35. pp. 101-111.

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The problems of rural regions include globally uneven power relations and development patterns, and rapid and uncertain exogenous threats. At the same time, economic and social restructuring involving devolved planning responsibilities, privatised resource rights, and networked management approaches have undermined previous scholarly and policy assumptions about the character of rural regions. We already know that local and regional institutions play a critical role in ensuring the resilience and resourcefulness of rural regions in the face of such challenges. We do not yet understand why some rural regions are resourceful while others strain or even paralyse under conditions of inequity, complexity, uncertainty, and unpredictability. This paper seeks to identify the operational elements of effective regional governance, based on the premise that measuring and monitoring the potential for regional governance enables an assessment of the capacity of regional institutions to cope with the diversity of problems that may arise. A regional governance index is proposed. Four indicators of regional governance are identified, enabling measurement of (1) engagement in regional networks; (2) diversity and synergies across the instrument mix; (3) robustness and adaptability in instrument design; and (4) broader fiscal, administrative and democratic support. These indicators are tested using a case analysis of two rural regions in the USA and Australia. The test reveals the higher level of regional institutional potential in one of the regions, and highlights the critical function of regional network engagement and broader enabling fiscal, administrative and democratic preconditions in this region. The role of the state in organizing the conditions for these is shown to be vital. These findings are of use to particular regions concerned with enhancing their institutional performance, and can also assist government agencies and nonprofits to prioritise their investment and intervention in rural regions. Further development of systematic work in this domain needs to focus on the role and tools of the state, and other 'metagovernors', in organizing both the conditions for regional network engagement, and the broader enabling fiscal, administrative and democratic pre-conditions.

Item ID: 39094
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-1392
Keywords: rural; regional; institutions; governance
Funders: University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Queensland
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2015 03:42
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160603 Comparative Government and Politics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940204 Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 50%
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