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Governance (from French gouverner , "manage, guide, educate", from Latin gubernare; synonymous with Greek κυβερνάω or κυβερνῶ (contr.) / Kybernáo or kybernō: to steer the helm) - often translated as government, official or corporate management  -, also form of control , generally designates the control and regulation system in the sense of structures ( structural and procedural organization ) of a political-social unit such as the state , administration , municipality , private or public organization. It is often used in the sense of controlling or regulating any organization (such as a company or a company). The term governance is often used vaguely.

Distinctions between terms

There is no German equivalent for the term (governance) , which comes from French . Previous attempts at Germanization, such as “governance”, have not caught on, but the term “forms of control” can be used . In the political environment, the expression was created as an alternative to the term government ( government ) and is intended to express that within the respective political-social unit control and regulation not only by the state ("first sector"), but also by the private sector ("second sector" ) and by the "third sector" ( clubs , associations , interest groups ). Under Corporate Governance refers to the control and management structure within, occasionally - on legal regulations - even outside of private sector companies .

In the political or political science, but also in the organizational sociological or business management discussion, the term often denotes at the same time the abandonment of structures primarily oriented towards "imperative control" ( English command and control ). Rather, with recourse to elements of personal responsibility , the organizations, units or individual actors to be controlled should take an active role in coping with the respective tasks or challenges. In addition, the term governance often also includes forms of cooperation between several actors.

Governance refers to the respective institutional framework and includes both material requirements and procedural elements (transparency, reporting obligations, cooperation requirements; in general: information, communication and cooperation - IK&K, paradigmatically developed for example in the REACH regulation ). Governance aims to improve the management of an organization or a political or social unit in order to achieve better goals.

However - purely empirically - the word governance is often not used in the sense defined here, but as a fashionable alternative to government . In certain understandings of terms, “governance” is only used when it is not the state (= government ) but rather private stakeholders that develop a control effect. An integrative assessment includes all actors , whereby - depending on the situation - some have to be given a higher priority and the others a lower priority.

Accordingly, a distinction is made between a narrow and a broad governance term. The narrow term stands in contrast to "government" (government) and emphasizes the interaction of state and private side, while the broad governance term any kind of political regulation with the aim of "management of interdependencies" (Benz) - by unilateral state control through cooperative forms of negotiation to social self-control - includes. Classically, the steering structures hierarchy , communities , market and network , which appear in different forms and can be combined, are distinguished. Furthermore, all possible systems of rules that determine the organization of decisions are referred to as governance mechanisms. In connection with the European integration process , further steering structures have been developed, which in research are also carried out under New Governance .

Normative and descriptive approaches

In the meantime, “governance” as a field of research and action has evidently ramified. The concept seems to be both popular and useful, although the use of the term does not necessarily imply an actual improvement in governance. At this point, two different political science perspectives open up.

Political scientists who choose a descriptive (i.e. a descriptive instead of a normative-defining) approach leave the question unanswered as to whether this is a qualitative change in statehood. Such open approaches are based on the following empirical observations:

  1. the change in regulatory structures through the inclusion of non-state actors in different policy fields, referred to as government with society ,
  2. the establishment of regulatory structures in international relations after the end of the East-West conflict , summarized as governance without government ,
  3. the increasing importance of multilevel systems with interlinked political structures, referred to in English as multilevel governance .

On the other hand, other political scientists start from the basic assumption that there is a fundamental change in statehood: “The normative use of governance is based on the assumption that the increased use of new forms of control increases efficiency and effectiveness and that the state's ability to act can generally be regained. "

Principles of governance are

  1. Accountability: accountability
  2. Responsibility: accountability
  3. Transparency: Openness and transparency of structures or processes
  4. fairness

New forms of regulation and their problems

The concept of governance poses special and novel requirements in areas of society in which actions are neither clearly determined by the pursuit of profit (as in private companies) nor by laws (as in public administration) or lending (such as notaries or public corporations) or some professional associations). Further problems arise from the effort to coordinate and standardize European policy fields in industrial and technology policy, e.g. B. in biotechnology, or in health policy. German corporatism, for example, requires the involvement of numerous social groups in the process of consensus-building or creates diverse opportunities for them to participate, which is difficult to combine with a normative and centralized governance concept.

In particular, a theoretical democratic dilemma arises. As already mentioned, more and more specialized and largely autonomous intermediary organizations are being created that are separate from administration and politics (e.g. the US Food and Drug Administration or the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programs in Germany ) and at different hierarchical levels operate without having to account for their actions to voters, elected politicians or representatives of the sector they regulate. However, the more intensive are the attempts to exert informal influence on the governance institutions or, conversely, their attempts to influence the field they regulate through informal contacts.

According to an Italian study, the regulatory institutions in Germany are formally more dependent on politics than in other EU countries, but less affected by informal influence. The regulators of the telecom sector are mostly relatively autonomous in Europe, but they are all the more often affected by informal influences. The factual low transparency and accountability of many regulatory institutions therefore contradicts the above-mentioned governance principles.

In recent years, the advance of governance concepts in more and more social subsystems has been analyzed many times. B. their penetration into the hitherto largely autonomous or only regulated by state laws higher education or in research policy. The decision-makers in research institutions also strive for the greatest possible autonomy and can largely deviate from the goals of the client in their actions.

Such processes are analyzed by the New Institutional Economics in the framework of the principal-agent theory . This shows the effects of exchanging rights of disposal and the external effects of failed incentive structures, which - as James S. Coleman explains - can lead to an increased need for standards, as the financial and banking crisis of 2008/09 has shown. However, the micropolitical and communicative processes of such norm formation are excluded by many authors such as Coleman.

Exemplary fields of application

European Research Area

The concept adopted, developed by the European Commission and in 2000 by heads of state and European Parliament of the European Research Area (ERA, European Research Area ) represents an attempt by the introduction of a multi-level approach to the regulation of research policy activities, which are now considered partially unsuccessful must . The basic idea was and is that of an internal EU market for research in which researchers, knowledge and technology can freely circulate. The EU Commission was given the mandate to work out detailed research programs for key areas, although many procedural details remained unresolved and took a back seat to the general demand for cooperation and networking. The decision-making processes about the European research framework programs and the involvement of the various national and international levels of actors remained extremely complex and opaque. The space was never clearly defined, the information asymmetry in the form of the advance of knowledge of the EU Directorate-General for Research over the national actors has steadily increased despite the establishment of comitology committees . In particular, the relationship between integration, cooperation and competition among researchers, between the market, hierarchy and network, remained in limbo. At all these levels there are already national and international, in some cases competing, decision-making bodies and regulatory institutions whose contractual cooperation and responsibilities have not yet been clarified.

A French study group is calling for a significant simplification of the processes and a governance framework that precludes the competition between companies from already having an impact in the formulation of European research programs.

College, Research and Governance

With the university reforms of the last few decades, many European countries have tried to reduce the autonomy of universities and to motivate them to take on more responsibility for research, innovation, employment, etc., while the universities have unsuccessfully requested more funds in order to be able to use them autonomously. All central control attempts had to fail here as well as a purely market-based incentive control or the attempts to maintain traditional self-control, which had been supplemented by the policy-like control structures from the time after the student movement. Hybrid, partly hierarchical, partly collegial regulatory structures between state and market have emerged.

Educational governance

Under this title, the current transformations in the school system - especially since the PISA shock - are examined and discussed with the help of governance terminology.

Degree programs and research projects

In order to do justice to the scientific interest, some universities offer research focuses and courses on this topic. For example, the Master’s degree in Governance and Public Policy emerged at the TU Darmstadt . In the meantime, institutional research connections have also become established in this field, examples are the Collaborative Research Center 597 Statehood in Transition and the DFG Collaborative Research Center 700 Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood: New Forms of Governance? . But also practice-relevant research projects have meanwhile been established within the framework of governance research and are addressed using the example of the energy system within the framework of the Copernicus projects by Arthur Benz and Michèle Knodt.


From a critical perspective, the governance approach has a problem-solving bias attached. Due to a focused orientation on the solution of collective problems, questions about particular interests and maintaining / gaining power could rather take a back seat. In addition, denationalisation tendencies and related questions of accountability and legitimation are problematized. In contrast, there are approaches that focus less on the withdrawal of the state than on the moralization of the market from a theoretical perspective.

The very empirical orientation of governance research is also criticized, as is its focus on non-institutional processes and actors: “As meritorious as governance research is descriptive, it has remained and remains inadequate in normative and analytical terms. How significant and influential non-hierarchical and informal forms of governance ultimately are in the public sector has never been investigated, and the fact that most areas of public tasks are still carried out in the form of official law enforcement has been downgraded to almost a minor matter. This luxury can be afforded by those who have confidence in the ubiquity of the robust form of public administration that governance research itself tends to counteract. "

See also


  • Herbert Altrichter , Thomas Brüsemeister, Jochen Wissinger (eds.): Educational Governance. Action coordination and control in the education system . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-15279-0 .
  • Herbert Altrichter, Katharina Maag Merki (Hrsg.): Handbook New Control in Schools . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-16312-3 .
  • Ian Bache (Ed.): Multi-level Governance. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-925925-9 .
  • Arthur Benz : Politics in the multilevel system. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14530-4 .
  • Julia von Blumenthal : From Government to Governance: Analyzes of Government in the Modern State . Lit Verlag, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9571-8 .
  • De Bievre, Dirk, Christine Neuhold (Eds.): Dynamics and Obstacles of European Governance. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham 2007, ISBN 978-1-84720-034-1 .
  • H. de Boer, J. Enders, U. Schimank: On the way towards New Public Management? The Governance of University Systems in England, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. In: D. Jansen (Ed.): New Forms of Governance in Research Organizations. Springer, Dordrecht 2007, pp. 137–152.
  • Ute Clement, Jörg Nowak, Christoph Scherrer , Sabine Ruß (eds.): Public Governance and weak interests . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-16612-4 .
  • Alex Demirovic , Walk, Heike (Ed.): Democracy and Governance: Critical Perspectives on New Forms of Political Rule. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-89691-872-7 .
  • Thomas Edeling, Werner Jann, Dieter Wagner (Eds.): Modern Governance. Coordination and organization between competition, hierarchy and solidarity. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-8100-3244-7 .
  • Francis Fukuyama: State Building. Governance and World Order in the Twenty-First Century. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY 2004, ISBN 0-8014-4292-3 .
  • Michael Haus: Transformation of Government and Challenges of Institutional Policy. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2010, ISBN 978-3-8329-5528-1 .
  • Dorothea Jansen (Ed.): New Forms of Governance in Research Organizations - Disciplinary Approaches, Interfaces and Integration. Springer, Dordrecht 2007, ISBN 978-1-4020-5830-1 .
  • Klaus König : Managed Government . Heymann, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-452-25252-3 .
  • Jürgen Kussau, Thomas Brüsemeister: Governance, School and Politics . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-15278-3 .
  • Renate Mayntz : About governance . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-593-38892-2 .
  • Birgit Sauer : Governance. UTB, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-8252-3016-6 .
  • Marcel Senn : Sovereignty - Some critical Remarks on the Genealogy of Governance. In: Journal on European History of Law. STS Science Center London, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 9-13 ( ISSN  2042-6402 ).
  • Ursula Lehmkuhl, Thomas Risse (Ed.): Governing without a state? Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood . Baden-Baden 2007, ISBN 978-3-8329-3154-4 .
  • Birger Priddat : Economic Governance. In: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Ed.): Governance research. 2nd Edition. Baden-Baden 2006, pp. 173-192.
  • Gunnar Folke Schuppert: Governance as reflected in the scientific disciplines. In: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Ed.): Governance research. 2nd Edition. Baden-Baden 2006, pp. 371-469.
  • Gunnar Folke Schuppert: What is governance and why? In: The administration . Journal of Administration and Administrative Sciences. 40th Volume, 2007, pp. 463-511.
  • Gunnar Folke Schuppert: The role of the law in governance theory. In: Hans-Heinrich Trute, Thomas Groß, Hans Christian Röhl , Christoph Möllers (eds.): General administrative law - on the viability of a concept . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, pp. 161-189.
  • Gunnar Folke Schuppert: Governance of Diversity. On dealing with cultural plurality in secular societies. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2017.
  • Ralf-Eckhard Türke: Governance - Systemic Foundation and Framework. (= Contributions to Management Science ). Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7908-2079-9 .
  • Quirin Weber: Framework conditions for peaceful coexistence of religions in Switzerland. In: Journal for Protestant Church Law. 60, 2015, pp. 409-419.
Governance in certain regions of the world
  • Klaus Werner Grewlich : Geopolitics and Governance. Energy, water, domination in Central Asia and Afghanistan . Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 2011, ISBN 978-3-8329-6751-2 .
  • Thomas Risse (Ed.): Governance Without a State ?: Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood . Columbia University Press, New York 2011, ISBN 978-0-231-15120-7 .
  • Dominik Nagl: No Part of the Mother Country, but Distinct Dominions - Legal Transfer, State Building and Governance in England, Massachusetts and South Carolina, 1630–1769 . Lit Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-643-11817-2 (online)
  • Anke Draude: The Diversity of Government - A Governance Concept Beyond Eurocentrism . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-593-39776-4 .
  • Shalini Randeria: Ecological Governance. Forced relocation and legal pluralism in (post) colonial India. In: Journal for Feminist Political Science. 2, 2009, pp. 41-51.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Arthur Benz: Introduction: Governance - fashionable term or useful social science concept. In: ders. (Ed.): Governance - Reign in complex rule systems. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2004, p. 17.
  2. a b Wolfgang Köck: Governance in environmental policy. In: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Ed.): Governance research. Confirmation of status and lines of development. 2nd Edition. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2006, p. 323.
  3. Julia von Blumenthal: Governance - a critical interim balance. In: Journal of Political Science . Volume 15, 4/2005, p. 1163.
  4. Fabrizio Gilarid, Martino Maggetti: The independence of Regulatory Authorities. In: David Levi-Faur (Ed.): Handbook on the Politics of Regulation. Edward Elgar, 2011, pp. 201-214.
  5. H. de Boer, J. Enders, U. Schimank: On the way towards New Public Management? The Governance of University Systems in England, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. In: D. Jansen (Ed.): New Forms of Governance in Research Organizations. Springer, Dordrecht 2007, pp. 137–152.
  6. ^ Jakob Edler, Stefan Kuhlmann, Maria Behrens: Changing Governance of Research and Technology Policy: The European Research Area. Edward Elgar, 2003.
  7. : Dietmar Braun: Who Governs Intermediary Agencies? Principal-Agent Relations in Research Policy-Making. In: Journal of Public Policy. 13, 2, 1993, pp. 135-162.
  8. James S. Coleman: Foundations of Social Theory. 2nd Edition. Harvard University Press, 1994.
  9. Hartmut Esser: "Foundations of Social Theory" or "Foundations of Sociology?". In: Analysis & Criticism. 14, 1992, pp. 129-142.
  10. [ website of the ERA]
  11. On the contractual network for European research funding from a legal point of view, cf. Arne Pilniok, Governance in the European Research Funding Network : A Legal Analysis of Research Policy and Research Funding in the Multi-Level System , Tübingen 2011.
  12. Thierry Chambolle et al: Espace Européen de la Recherche: Source vision et quelle governance? Rapport et note conclusive additionnelle du groupe de travail. Center des analyzes stratégiques of the French Prime Minister, Paris, November 2008 ( PDF , in particular, p. 26 f.).
  13. Thomas Brüsemeister, Martin Heinrich (ed.): Autonomy and responsibility. Governance in schools and universities. Münster 2011.
  14. Herbert Altrichter, Thomas Brüsemeister, Jochen Wissinger (ed.): Educational Governance. Action coordination and control in the education system. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007; Jürgen Kussau, Thomas Brüsemeister: Governance, School and Politics. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007; Herbert Altrichter, Katharina Maag Merki (Hrsg.): Handbook New Control in Schools. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010.
  15. MA course "Governance and Public Policy". Retrieved March 13, 2018 .
  16. z. B. DFG Collaborative Research Center 597 Changing Statehood
  17. Renate Mayntz: Governance Theory as an advanced control theory? in: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Hrsg.): Governance research. Confirmation of status and lines of development. 2nd Edition. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2006, pp. 11-20; see. also Renate Mayntz: About Governance. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2009.
  18. Governance and legitimation in the globalized world: Research at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen
  19. z. B. Joseph Wieland (Ed.): Governance ethics in discourse. Metropolis, Marburg 2005, ISBN 3-89518-536-1 .
  20. Wolfgang Seibel: Understanding Administration. An introduction to the history of theory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-518-29800-8 , p. 161 f.