Experimentation and hybridization are pervasive in city-regional governance. Administrations cope with the evolving necessities of their territories by adapting existing governance instruments, and by creating alternative ones. City-regional governance arrangements are also characterized by a high degree of interaction between different actors and elements, and are faced with questions of institutional, political and cultural integration, in cross-border contexts. Discussions on policy innovation addressing these challenges are well established in literature, but remain largely descriptive. Consequently, what is less understood is the co-evolution of city-regional governance and its basic legal, institutional and socio-political contexts. We argue that it is impossible to understand these evolutions of city-regional governance without having a good grasp of the underpinning notions, their utterances and corresponding roles. Within this broad context, we identify a set of basic challenges faced in governance practices. A first central question is how (democratic) legitimacy is interpreted in the policy-making processes through which new governance arrangements are being developed, and how it interacts with legality. A second question is how policy-makers, citizens, and experts foster institutional reforms within their overall legal and governance framework. Guided by these two tentative questions, the overall aim of our paper is to provide a theoretical exploration of the foundational mechanisms of city-regional law and governance. For this purpose, a critical review of the current literature on city-regional governance will be accompanied with illustrative examples taken from the most relevant experiences of city-regional governance in Western Europe.
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