Table of Contents

The International Handbook of Public Administration and Governance

The International Handbook of Public Administration and Governance

Edited by Andrew Massey and Karen Johnston

The International Handbook of Public Administration and Governance is a ground-breaking volume with eminent scholars addressing the key questions in relation to how international governments can solve public administration and governance challenges in an increasingly globalized world. With international coverage across Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, North and South America, the authors adopt contemporary perspectives of governance, including public policy capacity, wicked policy problems, public sector reforms, the challenges of globalisation and managing complexity. Practitioners and scholars of public administration, public policy and public sector management will be better informed with regard to the issues and structures of government and governance in an increasingly complex world.

Chapter 3: Governance: if governance is everything, maybe it’s nothing

Perri 6

Subjects: politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


For almost a generation, debates in public administration, policy studies, international relations and development studies have centred upon claims about a supposed rise of ‘governance’. Definitions of the term vary. Nor do researchers agree about what is supposed to have changed, when or what caused the change. But there are common themes. Chhotray and Stoker (2009: 3) define governance as ‘rules of collective decision-making . . . where there is a plurality of actors or organisations and where no formal control system can dictate the terms of the relationship between these actors and organisations’. Bevir (2011: 2) characterizes governance as ‘complex processes and interactions that constitute patterns of rule . . . phenomena that are hybrid and multijurisdictional with plural stakeholders’. Bevir and Rhodes (2003: 55) list resource interdependence, trust, reciprocity and diplomacy as defining features of governance. Similarly, van Kersbergen and van Waarden (2004: 151–2) claim that all the usages they review across disciplines share an understanding of governance as ‘pluricentric’, based on ‘networks’ among relatively autonomous but interdependent actors, with an emphasis on process of negotiation and accommodation rather than formal structure, in order to find ways to reduce uncertainty and thereby strengthen reasons for cooperation.

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