Leadership at the subnational level: Mayoral and executive models

Niels Karsten*, David W J Sweeting, Ulrik Kjaer, Simona Kukovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


The study of regional and local governments has varied according to the particular historical phase in which it is carried out. With the expansion of the welfare state in western countries in the post-war era, subnational governments were subordinated to the overall imperative of national reconstruction and acted as their ‘agents’. This was succeeded by the arrival of a phase of neoliberal globalization which changed the role of central governments and allowed regions, cities and local governments to experience greater levels of political and fiscal autonomy. European integration from the mid-1980s also stimulated regional mobilization and the notion of a ‘Europe of the Regions’. These led to many experiments in management, leadership, participation, devolution, structural reform, and initiatives at different territorial levels. The question posed by this book is whether the global financial crisis of 2008-10 has impacted on these reforms such as to reverse the trend towards greater decentralization, and whether there are potential lessons from the post-2008 period for the future of subnational government in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Developments and trends are linked to the subsequent chapters in the book where different themes are addressed in greater detail. The chapter surmises that there have been some changes but that, overall, the reform impetus continues, and it concludes by pointing to some areas deserving of further research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA research agenda for regional and local government
EditorsMark Callanan, John Loughlin
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978 1 83910 663 7
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021

Publication series

NameElgar Research Agendas
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing

Bibliographical note

Acceptance date is provisional and based on date of publication.

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Urban and Public Policy Research


  • political leadership
  • local government systems
  • local democracy
  • mayors
  • directly elected mayor
  • new institutionalism


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