Governance: What Do We Know, and How Do We Know it?
Posted: 13 May 2016
Date Written: May 2016
The term governance does not have a settled definition today, and it has at least three main meanings. The first is international cooperation through nonsovereign bodies outside the state system. This concept grew out of the literature on globalization and argued that territorial sovereignty was giving way to more informal types of horizontal cooperation, as well as to supranational bodies such as the European Union. The second meaning treated governance as a synonym for public administration, that is, effective implementation of state policy. Interest in this topic was driven by awareness that global poverty was rooted in corruption and weak state capacity. The third meaning of governance was the regulation of social behavior through networks and other nonhierarchical mechanisms. The first and third of these strands of thought downplay traditional state authority and favor new transnational or civil society actors. These trends, however, raise troubling questions about transparency and accountability in the workings of modern government.
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