The state’s governance role in advanced liberal democracies has certainly become more problematic and more complex in the face of a diverse array of delivery modes for the provision of public policy outcomes (Dixon 2003). On a command-market spectrum these would range from ‘central’ (national) ‘public’ provision, to ‘devolved’ (local and regional) ‘public’ provision, through ‘managerialised’ (corporatised and commercialised) ‘public’ provision, ‘supranational’ (external to the nation-state) ‘public’ provision, ‘communal’ (private-non-profit) provision, to ‘market’ (private-for-profit) provision. This spectrum is complicated by the emergence of multi-organizational partnerships, as implementers of public policy, involving agencies at the same or different points along this spectrum. Each of these delivery modes constitutes a distinctive regime that influences the nature of its relationship with the state in an environment in which there may be incongruent, even incompatible, public and private (more broadly, non-public) interests or motivations. This is creating a set of new governance challenges for government. What should the role of the state be in identifying and protecting the ‘public interest’ in a world that is becoming more diverse, more inter-dependent and more complex, and that is prone to governance failure.
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