Good Governance

Why Govern? The Strategic, Functional, and Normative Logics of Global Governance

Author(s): Conor Seyle, Amitav Acharya, Blake Berger, Goueun Lee, Kate Tennis
Date: September 28, 2014
Publication Type: Conference Report
Research Topics: Good Governance


Global governance is one of the most critical subjects in international relations scholarship and policymaking today. With intensified globalization, and the proliferation of collective action problems the world is facing in diverse areas such as security, climate, and economic relations, the need for the creation and sustenance of legitimate global governance structures is increasingly acknowledged. Yet, while most policymakers think global governance is a good thing, many aspects of global governance are poorly understood and often contested. The spread of global governance structures and institutions remains remarkably uneven across different issue areas; contestations abound over the reform of existing global governance institutions and processes and the creation of new ones. The conference “Why Govern? The Strategic, Functional, and Normative Logics of Global Governance,” held at American University in Washington, D.C. October 3–5, 2013, explored why global governance remains a contested and uneven enterprise. The conference was organized by the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance and the network of the Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue at American University with support from the One Earth Future Foundation of Broomfield, Colorado. 

Key Findings:

  • Demand for global governance can be characterized as strategic (relating to demand for material power), functional (relating to demand for a solution to a specific problem), or normative (relating to normative values that call for global governance.
  • Demand is not consistent across issues or over time. Often, institutions created in response to one type of demand evolve as different pressures arise.
  • Global governance systems have been supported more by materially weak actors than by stronger actors.
  • More data on the subject of demand is needed.
  • The role of creative fragmentation in global governance has significant policy relavance.
  • The study of regionalism may be an important complement to the study of global governance.

The report is also available in Chinese.

View/Download report (Chinese language)

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