The Responsibility of an Audience: Assessing the Legitimacy of Non-elected Representatives in Governance Networks
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionRepresentation. 2021, 1-17. 10.1080/00344893.2021.1933150
Non-elected actors in governance networks are legitimate representatives when the constituency accepts their claims of representation. However, not all constituents have the resources to approve or oppose this representation. Consequently, I argue that the audience, often the decision-making authority, which enables non-elected actors to act as representatives has a responsibility to consider their legitimacy. Drawing on seven business and urban development networks in Norway, this article explores how the decision-making authority considers credibility, qualiﬁcations and connectedness to legitimise non-elected representatives in governance networks. Through interviews with civil servants and politicians organising and participating in the network, relevant documents and observations, this article demonstrates that the decision-making authority legitimises non-elected representatives based on credibility and qualiﬁcations rather than connectedness with the constituency. The decision-making authority believes that claims grounded in specialist expertise, self-representation and shared experiences with the constituency legitimise non-elected representatives. Similarly, truthful representatives are considered legitimate. Finally, the decision-making authority is divided with regards to how the interactive process between the non-elected representative and the constituency legitimises the content of the representation.