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Differentiated Cooperation through Local Authority Networks: Challenges and Opportunities


Transnational networks of sub-national authorities are an established and growing phenomenon in Europe, where they perform a number of (soft) governance functions for their members, often in direct connection with European Union (EU) institutions. Differentiation is an inherent characteristic of sub-national authority networks, which is nonetheless still largely unexplored. Building on original empirical data, we identify three dimensions of differentiation generated by networks – ‘insider-outsider’, ‘compound’ and ‘multi-level’ differentiation – and discuss their implications for the efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy of these organisations. Based on our analysis, we also sketch some avenues for future research connecting the national and sub-national dimensions of differentiation in Europe.
Keywords: differentiation; sub-national authorities; transnational networks; multi-level governance; European Union

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