Governance is about how well those who are legitimately entrusted to do so manage public problems: Does the international community make progress in regulating financial markets or combating poverty? Does the EU succeed in reducing sovereign debt problems? Do national and local governments respond adequately to public debt? Do corporate leaders manage businesses in economically and socially responsible ways? And does civil society contribute to public problem-solving?
Governance includes multiple actors or stakeholders positioned across multiple levels and policy fields that frequently operate with contested problem definitions and diverse objectives and action frames. There are spill-ins and spill-outs across levels, actors, and fields—the result of the interdependencies characteristic of a globalising world, also evident at more local levels. In sum, governance is a system of related, nested parts whose interdependence in political, legal, and economic terms implies shared scopes of autonomy and responsibility alike.
How can we make sense of governance in a world that seems to be changing fast, not necessarily always for the better, and that seems to be gaining in complexity, even in a certain ‘messiness’ und unpredictability as it seemingly moves forward and backward at the same time? What are the main issues and components of, and for, good governance? What governance innovations are taking place, what options emerge, and what policy recommendations come to mind? This is where the Governance Report comes in.
A system of good governance is one that deals with these and other matters of public concern—be they education or health care, national security or infrastructure policies, the environment or labour markets—in effective, efficient ways.