E-government refers to a set of public administration and governance goals and practices involving information and communication technologies (ICTs). It utilizes such technologies to serve public agencies’ external audiences and constituents. However, the scope of that service is the subject of much debate and, consequently, no consensual definition of e-government had been formulated. The prehistory of e-government resonates with assumptions from the “new public management” (NPM), which proposed a restructuring of governmental agencies by adopting a market-based approach to ensure cost efficiencies in the public sector. Coined in the mid-1990s, the notion of e-government as equivalent to better government, economic growth, human development, and the knowledge society in general was quickly and uncritically accepted by practitioners and scholars alike. As scholars from different disciplines, including politics communication and sociology, paid increasing attention to the intersections of structural factors, hardware, and culture in the adoption and use of ICTs, research on e-government began to show some diversification. By the twenty-first century, the number of e-government websites from local and national administrations has grown sufficiently to allow some generalizations based on empirical observation. Meanwhile critical and comprehensive approaches to e-government frequently adopt a critical stance to denounce oversimplifications, determinisms, and omissions in the formulation of e-governance projects, as well as in the evaluation, adoption, and assessment of e-government effectiveness. Beyond the particularities of each emerging technology, reflection on the intersections between ICTs and government is moving away from an exclusive focus on hardware and functionality, to consider broader questions on governance.
Roberto Domínguez and Rafael Velázquez Flores
The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the literature on global governance, key elements for understanding its conceptualization, and a gateway to capture its multidimensionality. From this perspective, global governance is conceived as a framework of analysis or intellectual device to study the complexity of global processes involving multiple actors that interact at different levels of interest aggregation. The article is divided into four parts. The first section describes the origins, definitions, and characteristics of global governance. The second categorizes global governance based on different thematic areas where there is a confluence of governance practices, on the one hand, and the inclusion of a global level of interaction, on the other. The third discusses the different conceptual inquiries and innovations that have been developed around the term. Finally, the last part maps the different academic institutions that have focused their research on global governance and offer programs on this subject.
A network may refer to “a group of interdependent actors and the relationships among them,” or to a set of nodes linked by a web of interdependencies. The concept of networks has its origins in earlier philosophical and sociological ideas such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “general will” and Émile Durkheim’s “social facts”, which adressed social and political communities and how decisions are mediated and ideas are structured within them. Networks encompass a wide range of theoretical interpretations and critical applications across different disciplines, including governance networks, policy networks, public administration networks, social movement networks, intergovernmental networks, social networks, trade networks, computer networks, information networks, and neural networks. Governance networks have been proposed as alternative pluricentric governance models representing a new form of negotiated governance based on interdependence, negotiation and trust. Such networks differ from the competitive market regulation and state hierarchical control in three aspects: the relationship between the actors, decision-making processes, and compliance. The decision-making processes within governance networks are founded on a reflexive rationality rather than the “procedural rationality” which characterizes the competitive market regulation and the “substantial rationality” which underpins authoritative state regulation. Network theory has proved especially useful for scholars in positing the existence of loosely defined and informal webs of experts or advocates that can have a real and substantial influence on international relations discourse and policy. Two examples of the use of network theory in action are transnational advocacy networks and epistemic communities.
Much of the contemporary literature in the field of international studies deals with the concept of authority. Scholars concerned with global policymaking often suggest that the increasing importance of transnational actors, such as subnational networks, nonprofit organizatons, and business associations, leads to a loss of authority at the expense of state-based forms of governance. This perspective is closely linked to the concept of global governance and challenges classical approaches to international politics and conventional concepts of authority in world politics. However, other scholars take a different view and contend that the development of transnational governance initiatives does not imply a one-sided shift of authority from national governments and international institutions to sub- and nonstate actors. While these authors recognize the emergence of novel forms of authority in global policymaking, they stress the persistent authority of nation-states and underline the centrality of established modes of interstate cooperation. In terms of a theoretical middle ground between these two perspectives, one can argue that we observe a reconfiguration of authority across various actors and levels of decision making. This development does not automatically question the prevailing position of national governments and their institutions. Instead, state power seems to be expressed and rearticulated in new ways within a changing global environment. This ongoing debate pertaining to the changing patterns of authority is key to our understanding of the role and function of state and sub- and nonstate actors as well as their interactions in contemporary global politics.
There is wide consensus among global environmental politics (GEP) scholars about the urgent need for leadership in international climate negotiations and other environmental issue areas A large number of GEP studies elaborate rhetoric and actions of aspiring leaders in GEP. In particular, these studies seek to identify which states have sought to provide leadership in international negotiations on the environment, and how they have exercised this role in institutional bargaining processes at the international level. The biggest share of GEP studies generally focus on leadership in environmental governance within the United Nations (UN), and international negotiations on climate under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in general, or the role of the European Union (EU) in those negotiations in particular. Many GEP scholars have also investigated the leadership role of the United States in international environmental regime formation, whereas there are no systematic investigations concerning China’s leadership in GEP. In addition to the states, GEP literature identifies a wide range of other actors as potential leaders (and followers) in environmental issue areas: international organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, cities, religious organizations, social movements, politicians, and even individuals. Since leadership is a social relation, a growing number of scholars have moved to study perceptions of leadership and to conceptualize the relationship between leaders and followers. GEP scholars also identify some qualitative aspects a leader must have in order to attract followers. Many empirical studies show that despite the EU’s aspiration to be a climate leader, it is not unequivocally recognized as such by others. At the same time, it seems that some forms of leadership, especially those based on unilateral action, do not necessarily require followers and recognition by others. In addition to the leader–follower relationship, the motivation of leadership constitutes one of the key controversies among GEP scholars. Some argue that self-interest is a sufficient driver of leadership, while others claim that leaders must act for the common good of a wider constituency (or at least be perceived to do so). To conclude, most scholars studying leadership in GEP regard structural leadership (based on material capabilities and hard power) as an important type of leadership. Much less attention has been paid to the social dimensions of leadership; this is undoubtedly a gap in the literature that prospective studies ought to fill.
Anke Hassel, Henni Hensen, and Anne Sander
In the course of globalization, the locus of labor regulation has increasingly shifted toward the supranational level. However, the debate on global labor standards continues to be riddled by the question of the relationship between economic globalization and labor standards. This debate can be outlined along two main arguments: the liberal perspective, which sees a positive impact of globalization on working conditions worldwide, is opposed by those who claim a negative impact leading to a race to the bottom—a hypothesis based on the assumption that the liberalization of the international economic order intensifies competition, sharpens the fight for competitive advantages, and subsequently contributes to a downward spiral in wages and labor standards. In sum, the argument is that the effect of increased global competition leads to a growing worldwide inequality between high-skilled and low-skilled workers. One of the most significant new features of the internationalizing economy is labor migration. Low-qualified workers often migrate into hazardous conditions as they are not adequately integrated and protected in their host countries. Meanwhile, there are two major contested issues in the global labor governance debate: the debate around soft versus hard law and the relationship between labor rights and human rights. With the growing academic debate on international labor, a growing body of regulatory organizations and instruments has developed. Global labor is structured along three main lines: international (governmental) organizations and international standard setting; transnational labor movements and tripartite mechanisms; and private regulatory instruments such as Codes of Conduct (CoC) and multistakeholder initiatives.
Order and justice are deeply intertwined in English School writing. The central concern of the English School is with the problem of order and with the question: To what extent does the inherited political framework provided by the international society of states continue to provide an adequate basis for world order? This kind of question links closely with the debates on international institutions and global governance that have been so prominent since the end of the Cold War. But the English School focus is less on theoretical understanding of particular institutions and more on assessing the overall character of institutionalization in world politics, the normative commitments inherent in different ways of governing the globe, and the adequacy of historical and existing interstate institutions for meeting practical and normative challenges. There are four specific themes that are central to the pluralist wing of English School writing on order and justice. The first theme concerns power and the conditions of order, while the second concerns diversity and value conflict. Meanwhile, a third theme emerges from the idea that moral values should, so far as possible, be kept out of international life and of particular international institutions. Finally, the fourth theme concerns the argument that international society has the potential not just to help manage international conduct in a restrained way but also to create the conditions for a more legitimate and morally more ambitious political community to emerge. As power diffuses away from the Western, liberal developed core, and as the intractability of the international system to liberal prescriptions becomes more evident, so one can detect new changes in the way in which global justice is understood.
Benjamin R. Banta
The earliest scholarly writing on “cyberpolitics” focused mainly on the domestic sphere, but it became clear by the mid-2000s that the Internet-generated “cyberspace” was also having massive effects on the broader dynamics and patterns of international politics. A great deal of the early research on this phenomenon focused on the way cyberspace might empower nonstate actors of all varieties. In many respects that has been the case, but states have increasingly asserted their “cyberpower” in a variety of ways. Some scholars even predict a coming territorialization of what was initially viewed as a technology that fundamentally resisted the dictates of sovereign borders. Such disparate possibilities speak to the ambiguity surrounding the intersection of the international system and the political affordances generated by the Internet and related technologies. Does cyberpolitics challenge the international system as we know it—perhaps altering the very nature of war, sovereignty, and the state itself—or will it merely be subsumed within some structurally mandated logic of state-centric self-help? As might be expected, research that speaks to such foundational questions is quite sprawling. It is also still somewhat inchoate because the object of study is complex and highly malleable. The cyber-“domain” involves a physical substrate ostensibly subject to a territorially demarcated international system, but Internet-enabled activities have expanded rapidly and unpredictably over the past few decades because it also involves a virtual superstructure designed to be a network of networks, and so fundamentally at odds with centralized control. As such, some argue that because cyberspace has so enmeshed itself into all aspects of society, international politics and cyberspace should be seen as coevolving systems, and concomitantly that fields such as International Relations (IR) must update their theoretical and methodological tools. Such contentions indicate that an understanding of extra-domestic cyberpolitics has not so much involved progressively developing insights as differing perspectives compete to explain reality, but rather the growing recognition that we are only now catching up to a rapidly changing reality. As part of that recognition, much of the cutting-edge International Studies (IS) work on cyberpolitics is aimed at researching how the central actor in global politics, the state, is increasingly a cyberpolitical actor. This has meant the abandonment of strong assertions about the way cyberspace would exist separate from the “real world” of state interaction, or that it would force the alteration of especially hierarchical forms of state power. Instead, burgeoning literatures examine the myriad ways states seek to resist and control cyberpolitical activity by others, deploy their own cyberpolitical power, and even shape the very cyberspace in which all of this can occur. This focus on “international cyberpolitics” thus involves tracking a complex and growing milieu of practices, all while reflecting on the possibly fundamental changes being forced upon the international system. All of this points to the likelihood that the study of international politics will increasingly also be the study of international cyberpolitics.
The internet is a set of software instructions (known as “protocols”) capable of transmitting data over networks. These protocols were designed to facilitate the movement of data across independently managed networks and different physical media, and not to survive a nuclear war as the popular myth suggests. The use of the internet protocols gives rise to technical, legal, regulatory, and policy problems that become the main concern of internet governance. Because the internet is a key component of the infrastructure for a growing digital economy, internet governance has turned into an increasingly high-stakes arena for political activity. The world’s convergence on the internet protocols for computer communications, coupled with the proliferation of a variety of increasingly inexpensive digital devices that can be networked, has created a new set of geopolitical issues around information and communication technologies. These problems are intertwined with a broader set of public policy issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, transnational crime, the security of states and critical infrastructure, intellectual property, trade, and economic regulation. Political scientists and International Relations scholars have been slow to attack these problems, in part due to the difficulty of recognizing governance issues when they are embedded in a highly technological context. Internet governance is closely related to, and has evolved out of, debates over digital convergence, telecommunications policy, and media regulation.
April R. Biccum
The concept of “Global Citizenship” is enjoying increased currency in the public and academic domains. Conventionally associated with cosmopolitan political theory, it has moved into the public domain, marshaled by elite actors, international institutions, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, and ordinary people. At the same time, scholarship on Global Citizenship has increased in volume in several domains (International Law, Political Theory, Citizenship Studies, Education, and Global Business), with the most substantial growth areas in Education and Political Science, specifically in International Relations and Political Theory. The public use of the concept is significant in light of what many scholars regard as a breakdown and reconfiguration of national citizenship in both theory and practice. The rise in its use is indicative of a more general change in the discourse on citizenship. It has become commonplace to offer globalization as a cause for these changes, citing increases in regular and irregular migration, economic and political dispossession owing to insertion in the global economy, the ceding of sovereignty to global governance, the pressure on policy caused by financial flows, and cross-border information-sharing and political mobilization made possible by information communications technologies (ICTs), insecurities caused by environmental degradation, political fragmentation, and inequality as key drivers of change. Global Citizenship is thus one among a string of adjectives attempting to characterize and conceptualize a transformative connection between globalization, political subjectivity, and affiliation. It is endorsed by elite global actors and the subject of an educational reform movement. Some scholarship observes empirical evidence of Global Citizenship, understood as active, socially and globally responsible political participation which contributes to global democracy, within global institutions, elites, and the marginalized themselves. Arguments for or against a cosmopolitan sensibility in political theory have been superseded by both the technological capability to make global personal legal recognition a possibility, and by the widespread endorsement of Global Citizenship among the Global Education Policy regime. In educational scholarship Global Citizenship is regarded as a form of contemporary political being that needs to be socially engineered to facilitate the spread of global democracy or the emergence of new political arrangements. Its increasing currency among a diverse range of actors has prompted a variety of attempts either to codify or to study the variety of usages in situ. As such the use of Global Citizenship speaks to a central methodological problem in the social sciences: how to fix key conceptual variables when the same concepts are a key aspect of the behavior of the actors being studied? As a concept, Global Citizenship is also intimately associated with other concepts and theoretical traditions, and is among the variety of terms used in recent years to try to reconceptualize changes it the international system. Theoretically it has complex connections to cosmopolitanism, liberalism, and republicanism; empirically it is the object of descriptive and normative scholarship. In the latter domain, two central cleavages repeat: the first is between those who see Global Citizenship as the redress for global injustices and the extension of global democracy, and those who see it as irredeemably capitalist and imperial; the second is between those who see evidence for Global Citizenship in the actions and behavior of a wide range of actors, and those who seek to socially engineer Global Citizenship through educational reform.