Localism in Practice: Investigating Citizen Participation and Good Governance in Local Government Standards of Conduct

Published date01 January 2014
Date01 January 2014
Alan Lawton is deputy head of
the School of Business and Economics
(Gippsland) at Monash University, Australia.
He has held several professorial appoint-
ments at U.K. universities and was part-time
professor of governance and integrity at
Vrije University in Amsterdam. He has
published extensively in international
journals, authored or coauthored seven
books, and contributed numerous book
chapters. He has acted as a consultant to
the governments of Ethiopia, Lithuania,
Norway, and Bulgaria.
E-mail: alan.lawton@monash.edu
Michael Macaulay is deputy director
of the Institute for Governance and Policy
Studies at Victoria University in Wellington,
New Zealand. He is also visiting professor
in public management at the University
of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. His
research interests are integrity and ethics.
He has worked on numerous projects for
nongovernmental organizations such as
Transparency International. He has also
worked on projects at the University of
Johannesburg, South Africa, and for the
Council of Europe in Turkey.
E-mail: michael.macaulay@vuw.ac.nz
Localism in Practice: Investigating Citizen Participation and Good Governance in Local Government Standards of Conduct 75
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 1, pp. 75–83. © 2013 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12161.
Alan Lawton
Monash University Gippsland, Australia
Michael Macaulay
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
is article examines how, against a background of local-
ism endorsed by the 2010 coalition government in the
United Kingdom, a key component of local integrity and
governance was fundamentally altered.  e Localism Act
2011 abolished the English local integrity framework,
which relied on the participation of local citizens in the
policy making and implementation of local government
standards of conduct.  e article utilizes Henrik Bang’s
concepts of “expert citizen” and “everyday maker” to
explore citizen participation in local standards commit-
tees. Using a case study approach, the article demonstrates
how standards committees shaped processes and practices
in the local governance of integrity.  e authors argue
that standards committees were crucial in promoting
local participation and enhancing good governance.
There has been increasing international
interest in local integrity systems in recent
years (Head, Brown, and Connors 2008;
Huberts, Anechiarico, and Six 2008; Matei, Matei,
and Săvulescu 2010; Salminen and Ikola-Norrbacka
2009). Work from Australasia has increasingly looked
at the ways in which integrity management relates to
overall governance (Head 2012), leading one com-
mentator to suggest that the development of local
integrity shifts the debate from good governance to
“good enough” governance (Evans 2012).  is article
builds on this international interest by examining the
framework that was put in place for integrity manage-
ment in the United Kingdom at the local level and the
role of local citizens in that framework. In particular,
it looks at the role of the standards committees of
local authorities as part of that framework and the role
of independent members in those committees. Recent
legislative changes brought by the Localism Act 2011
fundamentally altered this framework and ef‌f ectively
abolished standards committees.
Our research was driven by three key questions: First,
what were the statutory and nonstatutory roles that
standards committees played in the local integrity
framework? Second, in what sense were the standards
committees a ref‌l ection of localism, that is, in what
ways did independent members inf‌l uence the local
integrity agenda? Finally, what forms of political par-
ticipation did the independent members correspond
We argue that well-developed standards committees
were prominent in promoting local participation and
enhancing good governance, all within the perspective
of localism. We investigate the standards committees
using a multiple case study approach.  e article is
divided into four sections. It begins with a discussion
of participation, integrity, and governance, drawing
on a view of democracy and the role of the citizen.
Second, it outlines the origins and development of
standards committees within the context of the cur-
rent localism agenda as presented in the Localism Act
2011.  e article then outlines the methodology and
empirical f‌i ndings from the case studies and concludes
with a discussion of the links between standards com-
mittees and participation.
Participation, Integrity, and Governance
e literature on democracy and democratic theory
is long and honorable, and it would be impossible to
attempt to summarize so much work here. Fukuyama
(2011), for example, traces the role of democracy in
human order from prehistoric societies. Dunn (2006)
assesses the impact of democracy in terms of liberation
movements in history. And Keane (2010) charts the
impact of democratic principles on current political
regimes and the reasons why democracy has begun to
receive negative connotations globally.  is supports
other research that directly criticizes democracy as a
dangerous ideal (e.g., Hawksley 2009).
e pursuit of good governance and the desire for
greater participation by citizens in public af‌f airs are ten-
sions at the heart of discussions of systems of govern-
ment (see, e.g., Dahl 1994). Balancing ef‌f ectiveness and
participation is central to democracy.  e distinction is
important, however, because it mirrors a wider discus-
sion within democratic theory pertaining to democracy
as both process and value. Lively (1975) outlines the
Localism in Practice: Investigating Citizen Participation
and Good Governance in Local Government
Standards of Conduct

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