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Narratives of Global Governance

Contrary to globalization, the use of the concept of global governance has not permeated the entire spectrum of the scholarly world in the United States. The scholarly debate has tended to concentrate around two main groups, focusing on the explicit or implicit use of the concept of global governance. The first group has explicitly embraced, developed, and debated the concept of global governance. Its methodologies and thematic spectrum are diverse and it is historically associated with the processes derived from the end of the Cold War. The second group has implicitly contributed to the debate on global governance by focusing on the role of the United States in the world arena. Its perspectives and methodologies are based on the traditional debates in the discipline of international relations, and the roots of its debates can be traced back to the relative decline of the United States in the early 1970s.

Global Governance in the United States

The first group of scholars studying global governance in the United States has experienced an important development during the past two decades. One of the main characteristics of the academic discussion is the proliferation of perspectives applying the concept of global governance to a variety of areas of the international agenda. The definition of global governance is the starting point of this array of views. Ikenberry defines global governance from the perspective of liberal internationalism: 'It is the collective effort of people to facilitate the upside of openness and exchange in the global system, while working together to manage the downside. Thus global governance is, in effect, the management of liberal internationalism' (Ikenberry 2014, p. 18).

Drezner adds the economic component to global governance and defines 'global economic governance as a set of formal and informal rules that regulate the global economy and the collection of authority relationships that promulgate, coordinate, monitor, or enforce said rules' (Drezner 2014, p. 124).

The study of global governance includes a variety of areas or topics, inter alia, global economy, cyberspace, international institutions, sustainable development, and governance of cities. The effects of the 2008 financial crisis along with the emergence of economic powerhouses such as India and China have predominantly guided the debate on economic global governance. Drezner argues that despite the failure of institutions of global governance to avert crisis, international institutions and governance frameworks performed contrary to expectations and on the whole 'the system worked and the open global economy survived' (Drezner 2014, p. 124; Drezner 2012). From a different perspective, Quinlan argues that globalization is in retreat after 2008 and the only solution is to find commonalities and subsume national interest for the global good by expanding global governance, which will depend not only on the success of relations between the so-called G2 (US and China), but also on the extent to which developing nations perceive themselves as real stakeholders in the global economy, among other factors (Quinlan 2011).

Associated with the transformations of global economic governance, the debate on rising powers plays a significant role. Gray and Murphy (2013) raise the question of whether the challenge posed by the rising powers to global governance is likely to lead to an increase in democracy and social justice for the majority of the people in the world. While some observers see an emancipatory potential in the redistribution of power among states, they argue, others see the rising powers as firmly located within the western-centred neoliberal world order. Wang and French (2013) have detected how elements such as leadership in the international order, the length of membership in major international organizations, and the strength of civil society may have a positive effect on the contributions of middle range powers to global governance.

As technology has increasingly impacted people's lives by shortening distances and enhancing communications, cyberspace has been a significant topic of global governance scholars in the United States. With a twofold focus on the relationship between states and the global web as an 'open common' as well as on the variety of information 'controls' of cyberspace, the global governance debate reiterates how the mutual interactions between governments and private sector produce alternative modes of governance that exhibit a tension between new norms that are gradually displacing old ones. These 'controls' have paved the way to what Deibert and Crete-Nishihata call a 'normative regression because they revert back to traditional state-based forms of control that are typical of the pre-internet days of territorialized regimes of communications' (Deibert and Crete-Nishihata 2012, pp. 342-4). Drezner, who claims that the substitutability principle is essential to understanding how the global web affects global governance, has explained this transformation from a different perspective. He argues that states, particularly great powers, remain primary actors and will substitute different governance structures by delegating regime management to non-state actors. Essentially, by creating international regimes with strong enforcement capabilities, competing regimes will be generated to protect material interests (Drezner 2004). Another ramification of the effects of cyberspace on global governance is suggested by Wong and Welch (2004), who assert that the adoption of web- based technologies in public administration has created a new government and citizen interface. However, based on their empirical study of website openness and accountability in fourteen countries, the question of whether 'e-government' promotes accountability is contingent upon what kind of bureaucracy one is referring to in the first place.

The study of intergovernmental institutions has also been interrelated to the global governance research agenda. Abbott and Snidal, in their study of 'Transnational New Governance' (TNG) argue that states and intergovernmental organizations are required to act as orchestrators of the international regulatory system and that the system currently suffers from an orchestration deficit. They understand orchestration (as a tool of international governmental organizations) as an indirect mode of governance in which an orchestrator (often NGOs) has no firm control over the activities of intermediaries, but must mobilize and facilitate their voluntary cooperation in a joint governance effort (Abbott and Snidal 2009). Drezner develops an interesting explanation about the role of international institutions around the concepts of viscosity (the capacity of international institutions to keep states committed to cooperate in any individual policy) and forum shopping (incentives of states to advance their interests by selecting one international organization over competing ones). He argues that in global governance, high levels of viscosity would mean numerous internal frictions within a single regime complex. However, he continues, there is a risk that the proliferation of international institutions can enhance the ability of great powers to engage in forumshopping (Drezner 2007).

The concept of governance has been applied to a variety of topics associated with development, particularly from the perspective of good governance. Based on several case studies of development processes and good governance, including in the United States, Goldsmith indicates that international aid agencies overestimate the direct economic impact of aid while underestimating the time and political effort required to change practices. In his view, greater transparency, accountability, and participation are often a result, rather than a direct cause of faster development. He warns that Western donors should be wary of fixating on a one-dimensional view of development and holding out unrealistic expectations for institutional change, economic growth, and poverty reduction (Goldsmith 2007). Grindle problematizes the relationship between governance and development. She argues that good governance is deeply problematic as a guide to development because implementing good governance calls for improvements that touch virtually all aspects of the public sector. Rather, she suggests that working towards good enough governance means accepting a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of institutions and government capabilities; being explicit about trade-offs and priorities in a world in which all good things cannot be pursued at once. She also notes that better governance can only be achieved through learning about what works rather than focusing solely on governance gaps, taking the role of government in poverty alleviation seriously, and grounding action in the contextual realities of each country (Grindle 2004). Andrews has also developed a critical analysis of linear implementations of good governance policies. He indicates that prominent good governance indicators actually look dissimilar and mean different things in different countries. This evidence challenges the current predilection for one-size-fits-all models of good governance (Andrews 2010).

Another area that demands inclusive policies at different levels of government is sustainable development. Jeffrey Sachs has addressed good governance and sustainable development at the global level. He argues that the most effective way to reach the global goals of strengthening sustainable development is by focusing on the three broad categories of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. He adds that they will also depend on a fourth condition: good governance at all levels: local, national, regional, and global (Sachs 2012). The environmental implementation is, however, complex. For instance, Rabe states that the transition of international agreements on climate change into domestic policy remains at a very early stage and argues that the respective experiences of the United States and Canada suggest that formal engagement in the international realm of policy is not a reliable indicator of domestic policy development or emissions reductions (Rabe 2007).

Another interesting perspective on global governance is the link between subnational or local governments and global governance. Barber has developed the argument that, regardless of city size or political affiliation, local executives exhibit a non-partisan and pragmatic style of governance that is lacking in national and international politics (Barber 2013). These kinds of voluntary partnerships range from simple exchanges of best practices to continent-spanning urban networks and constitute a relatively unknown layer of global governance that has already had a transformative impact on urban problems—and, in the aggregate, on global ones. Barber advocates a planet ruled by cities that represents a new paradigm of global governance characterized by democratic glocalism (encompassing global and local inputs) rather than top-down imposition, horizontalism rather than hierarchy, and pragmatic interdependence rather than outworn ideologies of national independence (Barber 2013). The Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), the largest network of forty megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is emblematic of Barber's analytical framework of global governance. From its creation in 2005 up to 2015, the C40 network increased its membership from forty to seventy megacities; and the C40 Summits have produced more than 8,000 concrete actions to combat climate change, such as bus rapid transit strategies, cycle hire programmes, and investment in low- energy lighting (C40Cities 2015).

The autonomy of the state and the representation of people in global governance have also been studied in the United States. Yee (2004) has studied and systematized the configurations of state autonomy and state/society relations based on the concept of modes of governance, which has been broadly defined as a pattern of policymaking or governing activity derived from the interaction between state and society. The discussion has been extended to the mechanisms and means that represent states and the world population in an effective system of global governance (Ramachandran, Rueda-Sabater and Kraft 2009). Miller asks whether international institutions might contribute positively to the securing of democratic legitimacy and accountability in international governance. Constraining the power and authority of international institutions reflects only a small part of the problem of democratizing global politics, and many of the most complex and egregious challenges of accountability in global politics concern the capacity of global publics to constrain great powers (Miller 2007).

 
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