Accountability, governance, and institutional change in intergovernmental relations: A theoretical framework

Joseph Benveniste, Shlomo Mizrahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article develops an explanatory framework of institutional change in intergovernmental relations. Using new institutionalism, we focus on a main explanatory factor—the players' perceptions of their own accountability and that of others. Integrating the concepts of multiple accountability and felt accountability, we develop the concept of an accountability gap, meaning differences between the perceptions of players in the central government about their responsibility to provide local services and the perceptions of players at the local level about their responsibilities. Our claim is that perceptual gaps concerning accountability in a two-tiered or multi-tiered system may influence their interests, strategies, and behavior and hence determine the timing and pace of specific institutional changes. We illustrate the theoretical framework by examining how Spain managed the COVID-19 pandemic. Related Articles: Aguado, N. Alexander. 2018. “Mayor-Council Form of Government and Policy Responses in Times of Economic Travail.” Politics & Policy 46(5): 714–30. French, Edward P., and Doug Goodman. 2011. “Local Government Human Resource Management Past, Present, and Future: Revisiting Hays and Kearney's Anticipated Changes a Decade Later.” Politics & Policy 39(5): 761–85. Kwon, Sung-Wook, and Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman. 2019. “Influence of Local Political Institutions on Policy Punctuation in Three Policy Areas.” Politics & Policy 47(2): 300–25.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-255
Number of pages14
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Politics & Policy published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Policy Studies Organization.


  • COVID-19
  • Europe
  • Spain
  • accountability
  • accountability gap
  • central government
  • institutional change
  • intergovernmental relations
  • local government
  • new institutionalism
  • pandemic
  • timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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