Jurisdictional Integrity, Polycentrism, and the Design of Democratic Governance



Political and managerial processes are creating polycentric networks that transcend the traditional ideas of jurisdictional integrity in state-centric systems. Jurisdictional integrity refers to the political and legal competence of a unit of government to operate within a spatial and functional realm. An intrinsic element of jurisdictional integrity in a democratic system is that citizens are enabled to give consent to and pass judgment on the exercise of authority by that governmental entity. The concept of jurisdictional integrity is shown to apply differentially in relation to the traditional institutions of government in comparison with the emergent complex of quasi-governmental agencies, special purpose bodies and multi-organizational collaborations. Distinctions are drawn between club, agency and polity entities within this emergent organizational field. Problems to be faced in the design of institutions for network governance under conditions of polycentrism are identified and solutions reviewed. The potential of consociationalism to enable collective decision making across a polycentric system is highlighted. Informal norms are shown to be essential in enabling such a system for network governance to operate effectively.