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What is Governance Innovation?

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The term ‘governance’ indicates the complexity of decision-making processes in contemporary political and economic affairs. As opposed to the more traditional ‘government’, the idea of governance presupposes a fragmentation and diffusion of authority.

Due to economic, social and cultural dynamics, no government nowadays can simply govern ‘alone’.

It is bound to share ‘bits and pieces’ of authority with other entities, from non-governmental organizations to regional institutions and private corporations. Governance may take the form of a multi-level architecture of decision-making, which develops ‘vertically’ (as is the case, for instance, with supranational institutions and subnational local authorities) and/or a horizontal structure of diffused networks of governance systems (as is the case with the overlapping roles of the public, private and the third sectors). As pointed out by Manuel Castell, governance is a result of a ‘networked society’ in which public and private authority is increasingly intertwined.

As governance remains a contested concept, with different actors exerting different types and levels of influence, the concept of governance innovation indicates new ideas, experiments and practices that can help achieve better coordination and more commonly shared results in how we manage our societies.

“Governance innovation indicates the continuous search for new paradigms to resolve social conflicts and strengthen cooperation across different sectors and among people. In a word, to achieve better policy decisions in an era characterized by complexity and a holistic understanding of well-being”

In this regard, some of the most promising innovations in contemporary governance have to do with how we redesign our economic model and how we find better ways to share limited resources. In some areas, regional cooperation and integration have become crucial ways of responding to most challenges in the 21st century, which by nature transcend national borders. As the ultimate goal of government is to achieve development, then it becomes paramount to define what development is in today’s world.

To what extent does this influence our understanding of who we are as human beings in relation to ecosystems?

How should this change how public and private actors pursue their key goals, starting with our own security and that of our planet?

At GovInn, we focus on Innovation in the following areas:


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