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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

2 - Seeing Polycentrically

from Part I - Foundations for Understanding and Researching Polycentric Governance


Because many types of governance can be polycentric, an observer faces a challenge in trying to identify and understand polycentric governance in actual settings. This chapter adopts the perspective of thinking about polycentricity as a lens through which to view governance situations. We take an inquiry approach, considering how one might determine whether and in what ways a given governance situation demonstrates the characteristics of polycentric governance. We proceed through a series of questions an observer could pose as part of 'seeing polycentrically', i.e., looking at the aspects and dimensions of polycentric governance introduced in Stephan, Marshall, and McGinnis as a way of building an understanding of a governance situation. We attempt to describe why these queries are important and how posing and answering these questions helps in examining and understanding the situation. We close the chapter by considering the challenges of assessing the operation of polycentric governance arrangements.