How can network leaders promote public value through soft metagovernance?

Sarah Ayres*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
266 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this article is to explore the opportunities and challenges of employing ‘soft’ metagovernance to promote public value in governance networks. Soft metagovernance can be defined as a form of relational leadership that is exercised through face-to-face contact. This involves making an emotional connection with people to exert influence through a collaborative endeavor, rather than employing bureaucratic authority. Drawing on a case study of a local social enterprise - The Bristol Pound - in the UK, this article examines how soft metagovernance can be used by non-state actors as a form of leadership to create public value. Evidence reveals that relational forms of leadership are a powerful asset in helping leaders of networks to create public value. Moreover, if network leaders understand how soft metagovernance functions they can use it more purposefully to maximize public value creation and mitigate the risks of public value destruction in governance networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Metagovernance
  • city leadership
  • informal governance
  • Social Enterprise
  • Bristol
  • public value


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