Discussion of ‘governance’ has become commonplace in health and social care in recent years, and ‘good governance’ seems to be seen in some quarters as offering potential answers to some of the complex challenges facing public services. Drawing on evidence from both the private and public sectors on governance, this short paper explores three key interrelated questions: What do we mean by governance (and how does it differ from management)? What is the evidence on governance? What can good governance do? It concludes with some reflections on the key messages for governance in health and social care. In so doing, it draws on material from the Integrated Care Network paper on governance and partnerships written by two of the authors (ICN, 2004) and an ESRC‐funded study of these issues by another (Skelcher & Mathur, 2004).
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