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Understanding Issues Related to Polycentric Governance in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region

PFM, Vol. 12 No. 3, (2012)

Metropolitan government in India involves public organizations, networked vertically and horizontally, operating at different scales and having diverse – often overlapping – functional scopes. The interactions among these public organizations and their agents along with various private organizations, interest groups and civil society occurring within the environment of a federal set-up and fractured polity, lend a polycentric character to metropolitan governance. This paper investigates implications of the underlying institutions for the governance of metropolitan regions in India. For this, the paper analyzes polycentric governance in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) through three cases that portray interactions among various public organizations and actors. The paper finds that the governance in MMR is only ‘ostensibly’ polycentric. This can be attributed to the institutional framework that causes destructive conflicts, absence of efficiency enhancing competition, rent seeking, political information failure, concentration of power with certain key positions, and agency problems. Enabling governance in Indian metropolitan regions to be ‘truly’ polycentric in nature would therefore require a careful deliberation and modification of the institutional framework.

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