The last decades have witnessed a significant shift in policy competences away from central governments in Europe. The reallocation of competences spans over three dimensions: upwards, sideways and downwards. This collection takes the dispersion of powers as a starting point and seeks to assess how actors involved cope with the new configurations. In this introduction, we discuss the conceptualization of power dispersion and highlight the ways in which the contributions add to this research agenda. We then outline some general conclusions and end by indicating future avenues of research. Taken together, the collection contributes some answers to the challenge of defining and measuring – in a comparative way – the control and co-ordination mechanisms which power dispersion generates. It also explores the tension between political actors’ quest for autonomy and the acknowledgement of their interdependence whilst revealing how, as power dispersion deepens, central governments have sought to both manage and limit it.