Local government paradiplomacy in the UK: The case of the Kent-Virginia Project

Rebecca Casson, Paolo Dardanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates the Kent-Virginia Project, a recent partnership
between Kent County Council (KCC) and the US state of Virginia, as a case study of
local government paradiplomacy in the UK. It sets the project in the context of the
growing international involvement of local government, which has so far largely been
neglected in the literature. It seeks to explain why KCC embarked on this initiative and
to identify what opportunities and constraints shaped the latter’s development. The
evidence shows that KCC was primarily motivated by personal and institutional
ambition, that decision-making was rather opaque and that communication was highly
selective. As a result of its seizing a series of unforeseen opportunities that changed the
nature of the project, KCC found itself performing roles traditionally reserved for central
government. It also faced, however, severe constraints in terms of maintaining multiple
institutional relations as well as managing media and public attitudes to the project.
These findings show that UK local government can successfully engage in ambitious
paradiplomacy but that such activities take place within an uncertain legal framework
and raise both positive and normative questions. The article concludes by suggesting
several avenues for further research and by calling for a redefinition of the legal and
institutional framework governing the international activities of UK local government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-614
Number of pages16
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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