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Diego Bastidas Chasing

Dorine Akwiri
Susanne Beilmann
Professor Tupper
GPP 506

Global Governance in its Labyrinth:
History, Deficiencies and Successes


The last three decades have seen a rapid supranationalization of political and social

processes due to globalization and its related technological advances. This supranationalization

has resulted in the creation of international institutions and regulatory frameworks to enable the

development of a structure for global governance. The concept of global governance refers to

the entirety of regulations put forward with reference to solving specific denationalized and

deregionalized problems or providing transnational common goods. (Zurn, p. 1). This global

governance framework is not only a response to the natural needs of a more interconnected

world, but to the political visions and interests of Western world powers. This process began with

the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Bloc, wherein a new Liberal Order came about

to impose hegemony at a global level. As Francis Fukuyama describes in his book, The End of

History and the Last Man (1992), this event signaled a future dominated by a lack of conflict and

the predominance of the Western liberal democracy and market-oriented economies. The

Western bias in the ideas of governance and public administration is problematic because it

imposes normative constructs that are not necessarily shared by the countries that are affected

by them. The three articles discussed in this essay will describe the issue Western bias in public

management, the notion of the ideal state and global governance and how Western dominance

in multi-level governance has impacted State autonomy.

Public Management

Public management is an integral part of governance. The methods and ideas that are

used to steer a State become part of the larger governance structure. In his 2014 lecture at the

International Institute of Administrative Sciences, subsequently published in the International

Review of Administrative Sciences, Christopher Pollitt describes the evolution of public

management ideas and techniques over the last three decades. Pollitt states that, although public

administration has been dominated by Western countries for the last 30 years, this domination

was never as complete as it was once thought. Moreover, the efficacy of these techniques is

increasingly being questioned by a growing audience. He concludes that, as the Anglosphere

tradition becomes less prominent, new public administration ideas and traditions are starting to

emerge from non-Anglophone countries such as China and India.

The management ideas originated in leading business schools, international management

consultancies, organizations such as the OECD, and the governments of the United States, the

United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Stemming from Anglophone countries, this

ensemble of public administration techniques are sometimes referred to as the Anglosphere.

Under these techniques, specific public sector organizations, such as an agency for child welfare,

are regarded as general organizations whose modus operandi can be molded using Western

techniques. Seen as a one-size-fits-all solution, these practices, which include New Public

Management, benchmarking and contracting out, offer a set of tools that could help public sector

organizations work with more efficiency and efficacy. The organizations and academics behind

these ideas saw this management approach as a way to minimize expensive, time-consuming

local research and the struggle to understand the fine detail of local contexts- because basically

the best solutions [was] already known (Pollitt, p. 5).

Supported by a strong network of English-speaking academics, consultants and

government officials, these ideas were propelled in public management discourse for over 30

years. However, as Pollitt points out, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these ideas were

not as dominant as perceived. Many countries, including France and Germany, rejected these

ideas and opted for their own indigenous traditions. Other countries, such as Japan, heavily

transformed them prior to implementing them locally. Still others did not see a need to use these

ideas at all, since they had administrative traditions and techniques of their own.

The success of these ideas has come under closer scrutiny over the last few years. Once

regarded as a universally applicable tools (Rovik, quoted in Pollitt, p. 5), the ability of these

techniques to bring positive change while lowering costs is increasingly being questioned. Pollitt

provides several examples of public management reforms carried out in the UK and the US that

resulted in little to no impact on productivity, efficiency or waste reduction. Instead, Pollitt points

out that many governments have been hollowed out, losing control over many of their agencies

and becoming subject to contractual agreements.

The third contention in Pollitts argument is that, as Anglosphere dominance of public

administration techniques recedes, the ideas of other countries such as China, India, and some

Latin American countries are starting to gain a stronger foothold. This change, concludes Pollitt,

represents something of a liberation an opening up of multiple opportunities (p. 13) for different

techniques and solutions, for a more inclusive and open stage for dialogue on public


Pollitts analysis about the so-called dominance of Anglosphere ideas does not really

answer the question of why these ideas were not globally adopted. He states that some countries

have systems of their own, and that reservations against the full adoption of Anglosphere ideas

stem only partly from cultural differences (p. 11). However, we believe that Pollitts argument

would be much stronger if he provided a deeper analysis and answer to this question.

Anglosphere public management norms, particularly those related to New Public Management,

are laden with values that can be contradictory of the values of many non-Western countries. The

emphasis on output versus process, the focus on efficiency (sometimes at the expense of human

rights), and doing more for less are fundamentally opposed to the public management values of

many countries outside the OECD (Hood, 1991). These are very Western, Eurocentric ideas. We

argue that cultural differences are thus a significant reason for why these ideas were not

implemented by other countries. Likewise, the impact of local social and economic conditions

cannot be undermined. NPM-style reforms came about after World War II, when various

developed countries enjoyed years of economic growth and social liberation. These ideas and

techniques were designed to work best in modern societies with well-functioning market

economies; they cannot be translated and applied to just any country. In fact, like the strategy

employed in governance efforts in areas of limited statehood, there is a notion of neocolonialism

in many of the public management reforms being exported to non-OECD countries.

Pollitts analysis of the questionable success of Anglosphere techniques is correct. Indeed,

these techniques have sometimes resulted in deleterious consequences, including increased

corruption, a decrease in the quality of services offered, and accountability vacuums. These

undesired effects have occurred not only in the Anglophone countries where these traditions

originated, but in many of the countries where they have been (forcefully or otherwise)

implemented. Of course, that is not to say that they have not proved to be fruitful in many different

countries, because they have. But the overall capacity of these ideas and techniques to

accomplish the goals that they presuppose, particularly when applied to non-Western countries,

should be evaluated empirically prior to further promulgation by organizations like the World Bank

and the OECD.

While we agree that there has been a relative decrease in the dominance of public

administration ideas and techniques, we are unsure about the practical aspects of the inclusion

and implementation of administrative ideas of other countries. Put simply, this relates to language

barriers, path dependency and the monetization required to promote these ideas. One of the main

reasons why Anglosphere ideas took off is that the authors and organizations behind them all

spoke the same language. China, India, Latin America and the United States do not share the

same language. Nor do they share international management consultancies willing and able to

push their ideas globally. Moreover, we argue that path dependence would signify an obstacle to

the full or even partial implementation of vastly different reforms, were these to be translated.

Lastly, it should be noted that, unless non-Anglosphere ideas are monetized and promulgated by

international management consultancies the way Anglosphere ideas were, it remains unlikely that

these will reach a significant level of global prominence. To be sure, Anglosphere ideas and

techniques are still being actively promoted by various governmental and non-governmental

agents around the world; these are an important aspect of multi-level governance.

Global Governance as Multi-Level Governance

Global governance as a political category is a response to a shift in world dynamics over

the last 60 years that has resulted in an interplay political entities. This concept has been infiltrated

by a Western bias imposed on the political realm by developed countries such as the United

States, the United Kingdom and France after World War II. This bias is reflected in the liberal

world order that purports to have the answers to the worlds political and social problems.

Global governance presupposes the existence of common goals between regions and

countries. This assumption does not deny the existence or importance of the nation-state as a

natural space for solving problems under the modernity paradigm. Instead, the analysis of global

governance recognizes that there are fundamental conflicts between States. In this sense, the

analysis of global governance has risen in a historical post-World War II scenario where Western

powers reshaped the international agenda according to their particular set of political and social

values in every area of life. The concept that results from these power relations has a clear

normative direction and is a logical response to the interconnection that came about with the

technological revolution.

This rapid supranationalization process implied the development of institutional and

regulatory frameworks that have direct implications for the public policy and administrative

procedures in countries. This is a challenge for international principles of state coexistence as

related to the consensus principle and equality under international law. Therefore, there is tension

between the idea of global governance and the principles of sovereignty of countries under its


In his article Global Governance as Multi-Level Governance, Michael Zurn describes a

type of system that is required for global governance to function coherently and with a defined

purpose, a multi-level governance system. The actors and entities within multi-level governance

are organized, autopoietic, polycentric and organic parts of the system. Thus, political authority

has to be shared between the many levels of this system. As a result, the multi-level governance

system consists of three well-defined levels: legitimation, coordination and implementation. Each

level has a specific role and can coordinate with other levels to reach goals. There are deficiencies

and challenges in regards to how to carry out tasks at every level.

The legitimation level is a space for deliberation and having the public discussions around

what kind of problems must be decided and how those problems will be addressed. There are

interventions from a myriad of key actors at this levels such as the nation-state, regional

organizations, international organizations, civil society organizations, and the business sector. At

the coordination level, multilevel governance implies building a framework for the actors who will

be carrying out the basic tasks demanded by the system. The system requires that each actor is

willing to implement common policy goals. Finally, at the implementation level, multi-level

governance results in an overlap in the jurisdiction and competencies of actors (domestic and

international) in reaching common goals. Multi-level governance requires a nation-state that will

work within the system and support the consensus created at the legitimation level. This is why

multi-level governance does not negate the relevance of the nation-state. Instead, it relies on the

nation-state to fulfill its mandate.

The paradigm of multi-level governance faces two main problems which lie at the

legitimation level and the inherently fragmented structure of the system. At the legitimation level,

there is a high degree of politicization where Western liberal values have greater influence.

Consequently, there has been a reduction in the global relevance of non-Western ideologies.

Specifically, global legitimacy has focused on the monetary aspects of governance, rather than

aspects related to rights and democratic processes. Secondly, the fragmentation of the multi-level

system between different jurisdictions has resulted in a preferential treatment of some democratic

demands over others, such as security and anti-terrorism agendas over human rights. There is

little coordination within the system to provide common goods and solve problems.

Multi-Level Governance in Limited States

Multi-level governance in areas of limited statehood becomes exceptionally difficult due to

the Western bias in defining and understanding local governance. As defined by Thomas Risse,

a limited state is a country in which central authorities lack the ability to implement and enforce

rules and decisions, and/or in which the legitimate monopoly over the means of violence is lacking,

at least temporarily.

Areas of limited statehood, despite the lack of domestic autonomy, still belong to

internationally recognized states and are subject to international legal standards of good

governance, human rights and the rule of law. But these standards come with Eurocentric and

Western biases of what governance ought to be, and how states ought to be run. The Western

discourse on governance remains centred on the ideal type of statehood: one with internal and

external sovereignty, a legitimate monopoly on the use of force, and checks and balances that

constrain political rule and authority.

But limited states are far from the ideal Western state. They lack internal sovereignty and

laws come from multiple sources including the constitution, religious institutions and tradition,

thereby making sovereignty through rule of law difficult. Limited states are also mostly steered

through non-hierarchical social coordination mechanisms like bargaining, persuasion and

sometimes the use of force. Central authorities of governance in limited states are sometimes

lacking, and in areas where they are present, they lack legitimate power to control the use of

violence and provide goods and services across the unit of governance, the State. Because they

lack monopoly over the use of force, limited states are characterized by violence and opposing

military units and rebel groups with considerable power to execute violence. There are weak

political institutions that can constrain political action and provide checks and balances on political


Within the State, governance (i.e. the intentional provision of goods and services and the

control of the use of force) in areas of limited statehood is performed by multiple actors. This

includes violent actors, local and international NGOs, informal governance actors like village

elders, governments, and public and private firms. There is also a considerable presence of multi-

level governance players like external (mostly western) governments, transnational corporations

and INGOs involved in providing goods and in rule-making. This presence of Western State-

building actors can be attributed to the view of the Western nation-state as the ultimate model of

good governance; therefore, solely they are seen as suited to help areas of limited statehood

form effective governments.

The main challenge of multi-level governance in areas of limited states when looked

through the lens of Western bias is to incorporate the non-hierarchical steering that exists

domestically in areas of limited statehood, within the internationally accepted, traditional Western

top-down, command-and-control approach to governance. This push to make limited states fit

into the international system of states that can be globally governed has been driven by the need

for legitimacy, accountability and efficient governance. This is because these factors have been

a main cause of concern in how effective, accountable and legitimate governance can occur in

areas with ineffective or absent hierarchical force.

To find a solution to this lack of hierarchical coordination, Risse points that the international

community has come to rule authoritatively in areas of limited statehood and also supplies a

shadow of hierarchy, inducing other actors operating within limited states to provide effective

governance. And this has led to the provision of direct public services in limited states by the

international agencies creating multi-level governance at the local level. However, it is not clear

how effective these services provided in this multi-level system are and how different they are to

the services provided in a non-hierarchical system. And we argue that they may not be as relevant

to the local people. This is because decision-making in multi-level governance happens at the

legitimation level, which is two levels away from the local implementation level. Also, at this stage

there are multiple actors involved, most of whom will be international experts and not members

of the limited state.

Because of weak local enforcement of laws in areas of limited statehood, international

legal standards on good governance, human rights and the rule of law hold actors accountable.

This is the only way that actors, both local and international, can gain international legitimacy.

While we appreciate that forcing actors in areas of limited statehood has increased protection of

the rights of local citizens, as Risses article rightly mentions, enforcement of these standards has

been inherently problematic. Perhaps a detailed analysis of why local actors have failed to adhere

to these internationally-set legal standards would help find a more relevant solution to the

governance dilemma in limited states. And find better ways of legitimizing governance actors in

these areas.

As we have seen, the international community, in its attempt to ensure areas of limited

statehood experience good governance, has just basically been pushing limited states to become

Western democracies. The obsession with hierarchy, the push for legitimacy through Western-

developed laws and the need for local actors to adhere to these international standards, has not

shown evidence of creating a more inclusive system of governance, or of providing a more locally

acceptable system of governance.

The role of local actors, state or non-state in deciding governance in areas of limited states within

the context of globally acceptable systems has continued to be absent. Multi-level governance in

these areas continues to be Eurocentric and based on a single narrative of Western standards.

On 3 June 2013, for example, the Security Council established the United Nations

Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) which was meant to galvanise international support for

Somalia as it recovers from more than two decades of conflict and builds a new state. To date,

the heavy presence of the UN in Somalia has not been effective in stopping the conflicts or terror

attacks, or at the least leading to better provision of goods and services. Since the Somali civil

wars in 1991, the international community, through UNSOM has made 15 failed attempts at

creating peace and stability within Somalia. Perhaps this failure is what has caused the

international community to work together with Somalis and develop a New Deal for Somalia. The

New Deal emphasizes Somali-owned and Somali-led development and effective aid management

and delivery that mirrors these development needs among other principles. This fresh

commitment is guiding the UNs work and strengthening its partnerships in Somalia. And early

research has shown that this paradigm shift of inclusion of local actors in multi-level governance

in Somalia seems to bear more fruit than previous efforts (Manuel, Mckechnie, Wilson, & das



The three articles discussed above demonstrate that governance efforts by the powers of

the Western Liberal Order and the structures that they have put in place has been successful in

creating a global institution that allows the participation and regulation of almost every country.

However, there are serious deficiencies in this structure that must be addressed. Apart from the

structural aspects already discussed above, we wish to highlight the importance of considering

local contexts, both in terms of public management and governance. Without this, efforts that try

to clone Western ideas and methods in non-Western States with the aim of developing or

improving public administration and governance are bound to fail.


Fukuyama, F. (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press.

Hood, C. (1991). All Seasons? the Rise of New Public Management (Npm). Public
Administration, 69(1), 319.

Manuel, M., Mckechnie, A., Wilson, G & das Pradhan-Blach, R. The New Deal in Somalia- An
Independent Review of the Somali Compact, (April 2017), 20142016.

Pollitt, C. (2014). Towards a new world: some inconvenient truths for Anglosphere Public
Administration. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 117.

Risse, T. (2012). Governance in Areas Of Limited Statehood. The Oxford Handbook of

Governance, 119. Retrieved from

Zrn, M. (2012). Global Governance as Multi-Level Governance. The Oxford Handbook of

Governance, (December 2017), 118.


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