Handbook on Theories of Governance
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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.
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Chapter 9: International relations theory

Kerstin Sahlin


This chapter presents a perspective on governance in which the interplay of multiple actors is key. Processes, rather than specific sets or groupings of actors, form the primary units of analysis. Coercive rules are common and expanding around the world. In addition, studies have shown a far-reaching proliferation of regulatory activities among and across nations—transnationally. Such regulations tend to be of a ‘soft law’ kind. The chapter is structured as follows. The first section presents the notion of a transnational world. Then follow two sections presenting the principal characteristics of transnational governance: distributed yet organized governance and the multi-institutional embeddedness of governance processes. A concluding section describes how these three dynamic features combine and with what consequences.

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