Governance in a glocal society

Glocalization refers to the simultaneous occurrence of tendencies towards globalization and localization. Many processes in our society are aimed at standardization and scaling up, while at the same time there is an increasing need to develop customized solutions and to adapt to local conditions. The national governments often find themselves being “too big for small problems, but too small for big problems”. The transboundary challenges of today, such as climate change, digitization, integration and health care call for tailored approaches, expose the interdependencies between the different government levels, necessitating new ways of governing.

In this course we zoom in on possible governance approaches and strategies to make the complexity that comes with glocalization manageable. We specifically focus on ‘multilevel governance’, and closely related forms of governance such as ‘experimentalist governance’. We explore the pressures on the central state particularly from below, but also from above, due to the increased importance of cities and regions in the national and international context. We discuss what the interdependency between these different levels and the necessity for local tailor-made solutions imply for compliance with policies which address transboundary societal challenges. The transboundary nature of these challenges calls for a collective response and commitment from all levels of government. The policy ambitions would otherwise remain empty promises on paper. Coordination between different levels and stakeholders is often deemed to be a key ingredient in ensuring that ‘paper’ promises are translated into ‘practice’. Yet, it remains an academic challenge to define what ‘good’ coordination entails, let alone empirically examining it. We will, hence, also dive into different approaches to studying such coordination. Adding to complexity, an effective coordination does not preclude cities and regions responding differently to similar challenges. We thus will also examine the dynamic behind these differences in local policy responses.

In sum, in this course:

  • We explore origins, meaning, and evolution of the concept of multilevel governance, making sure to reflect on the applicability of the concept beyond the EU;
  • We discuss transgovernmental networks, experimentalism and the limits of global governance;
  • We discuss the role of sub-national authorities (cities and regions), their adaptive capacity to deal with transboundary challenges, and their limits and powers in the multi-level governance structures;
  • We zoom in on different theoretical approaches in understanding effective goal-alignment between different levels of government;
  • We discuss the mechanisms behind differences in local responses to transboundary societal challenges.
  • And finally we put glocalization into a larger perspective and reflect on the implications of glocalization for democracy.


More importantly, this course aims to create a platform for discussing how the complexity of multi-level governance relates to or enriches your own research. Above all, we envision creating an academic space where we can learn from each other. By offering different policy examples, examining different countries, and exploring different theoretical angles we hope to attract a diverse group of PhD candidates, stemming from different research fields and traditions, with whom we can explore the complexity of multi-level governance.

The course consists of three days of interactive lectures and discussion sessions, under guidance of Prof. Martijn Groenleer (Tilburg) and Dr. Elena Bondarouk (Leiden).