Table of Contents

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.

Introduction: theories of governance

Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


To establish a common framework for the individual chapters explaining the intricacies of governance theory, the Introduction first defines the concept of governance and then specifies the basic understanding of governance that informs the contributions to this Handbook. It then explores the rise and development of the governance debate in Western liberal democracies and other parts of the world. Having defined the concept of governance and explored its origins, the Introduction reflects on the content and purpose of theories of governance and the need for a Handbook dedicated to the study of governance theory. This need arises from the rapid expansion of empirical studies of governance, which prompts us to consolidate, assess and further develop the theoretical foundations of this field. At the end of the Introduction, the purpose and content of the four parts of the Handbook are explained and the different ways that it can be used are outlined.