Authors: Grichawat Lowatcharin, Charles David Crumpton, and Sittipol Pacharoen

Research Article

Year: 2019, Volume 19 Number 4

Pages: 44–55 


The concept of intergovernmental relations (IGR) primarily focuses on the interactions among different levels and types of governments. With the proliferation of the concept of governance that calls for more actors in the public affairs arena, the traditional focus of IGR is challenged. The objectives of this article are to perform a fresh review of the concept of IGR and the practice of IGR research and to address contemporary challenges to them. We find that although the pervasive concept of governance has played an important role in IGR, it is confronted with a number of crucial questions, one of which is related to its inadequate consideration of democratic accountability and legitimacy. We further assess that in getting to questions of accountability and legitimacy of governance approaches, the IGR literature has inadequately considered the implications of organizational complexity typically found in governance arrangements. Applying theoretical and analytic lenses of organizational complexity, we offer two suggestions for the future of IGR to make it analytically more robust and better capable of answering questions regarding accountability and legitimacy dimensions of governance. First, we argue that the urban regions of the world should receive more attention as dynamic IGR laboratories from students of IGR. Second, we suggest that hybrid organizational analysis can be a powerful addition to the analytic toolbox of IGR to explore the impact of organizational complexity on governance arrangements. 

Keywords: central-local relations, hybrid organization, intergovernmental relations, multilevel governance, urban governance