This paper seeks to take stock of core arguments in some of the most central governance traditions and to discuss their capacity to deliver solutions. It starts with an appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas of market‐, state‐ and civil‐society‐led governance, but also factors in the effect of media and communication as governance arenas in their own right. Then it aims to review core arguments put forward in broader approaches to governance where multiple governance mechanisms are combined.
This is a conceptual paper that reviews central approaches in the governance literature and their ability to further sustainable development. The review is taken as a basis for tentative formulations of new supplementary governance approaches.
Out of the critical analysis the paper distils is an approach to governance that combines three basic elements: First, a re‐interpretation of Montesquieu's principle of checks and balances – applied not only to state institutions, but also to the interplay between the state, markets and civil society. Second, an argument for polyarchic, multilevel governance, where flexible institutional frameworks, at various levels of aggregation, allow actors to jointly engage in developing governance. Third, it argues that open communication may constitute an important governance element. It ends by recognising that global governance, going forward, will include a mix of parallel governance models, in some ways competing for hegemony, but supporting one another in other ways.
The originality/value of the paper lies in its critical assessment of central current governance theories and in its launch of new supplementary governance approaches.
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