This article assesses the nature of partnerships through the research site of local governance in England and Scotland, engaging a range of debates and literature around governance and meta-governance. The research used secondary data of local authority partnership working in England and Scotland as well as primary qualitative data from participant observation and interviews with senior officials of local authorities and partner organisations. There is little to suggest that English and Scottish practices are significantly at variance and the article advances an argument of meta-bureaucracy to describe partnerships' activities: that is to say, partnerships do not represent a growth of autonomous networks and governance arrangements but rather an extension of bureaucratic controls. State actors remain pre-eminent within increasingly formalised systems of 'partnership'.
- local governance