Innovating Policies and Government in an Italian Region. Lombardy s Model of Governance

Martino Mazzoleni, Alessandro Maria Colombo

Risultato della ricerca: Working paper


In the past ten years, extensive powers and competences have been devolved to Italy s twenty regions. The region of Lombardy, which is characterised by high levels of both prosperity and complexity and whose society is particularly lively, has been the most decidedly resolute to experiment and build up an original governance system. It has done so by interpreting its role as junction of local and global dynamics, of inter-personal, social, and economic relations. Most of the regions legislative, political, and administrative strategic decisions have been moulded by a vision founded on certain values, above all the principle of subsidiarity. This has come to be known as the Lombard model . In its action, the Lombardy government has not always successfully challenged Italy s established administrative practices and policy contents (characterised by topdown approach, policy uniformity, and bureaucratic culture), but also the traditional way of conceiving regions as mere replications at a lower scale of the state architecture and actions. This paper provides a concise overview of the Lombardy region s experience of government during the past 12 years. It does not consist of either an exhaustive account of relevant events and policies, or an assessment of the model itself, but rather of a starting point for a wider reflection on the role of the regions. The study of the Lombard model, from both the theoretical and empirical point of view, is underdeveloped. Thanks to a review of the available documents as well as several interviews, this paper illustrates the main features of this model (its political, juridical, and social contexts; its underlying principles; its main policy goals, actions, and instruments; and its criticalities and challenges) and sketches out a preliminary comparison with models offered in the literature on governance and policy-making. It shows how the Lombard experience may be characterized as a best practice of a new role for regional governments which overcomes at the same time both old and new regionalisms: the assertive role of the regional political leadership does not lie in portraying Lombardy and governing it as a small-scale nation-state, yet rather in designing and practising a new pattern of relationship between government and society. Thus, Lombardy shows that a region can experiment in an original model of governance from which not only other regions, but also states may learn.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine22
ISBN (stampa)978-88-8335-893-7
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2007


  • Governance
  • Lombardia


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