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Paper prepared for ICPP, Grenoble 2013. Panel 45/session 1.

A systems theory of Good Governance

Henrik Bang & Anders Esmark

The advent of network society or control society (Deleuze 1995) poses a challenge to critical theory and practice insofar as it suggests an appropriation of democratic vocabulary and the critical imaginary by a new managerial paradigm of good governance, hailing empowerment, individual freedom, creativity and self-governance framed by the democratic vocabulary of participation, transparency and accountability. Good governance relies instruments of governance that nurtures and strategically utilizes the self-governing potential of civil society under the strategic supervision of public authorities, seen in such diverse areas as employment policy, police power and crime prevention, health policy and biopolitics, employment policy, educational policy, accounting practices etc. (Bang and Esmark, 2009).

The paper first maps out this strategy of good governance the main implications for public governance policy and organization. Secondly, the paper discusses the main tenets of governance research, in particular the critical responses to good governance based on deliberative and radical democracy. Based on this reading, the paper suggests two theoretical adjustments to the analysis of governance. First, we suggest a reintroduction of macro-sociology and a revised analysis of the political system and current modes of governance. Secondly, we suggest an alternative analysis of the relation between power and freedom involved in good governance.

The strategy of good governance To avoid initial confusion: the notion of good governance does not refer to a scientific theory of governance or governance as a research program. Good governance refers to an

empirically observable politico-administrative way of making public policy-making, reforming and organizing. There are countless applications of the concept of governance, as has been noted by several observers (Rhodes, Jessop), leading others to question the theoretical value of the concept (Sabatier xxx,). Moreover, the many applications of the governance concept oscillate between scientific and practical applications, between research programs and policies, between observation and the object of observation itself (Jessop 2012, Meuleman 2008). Indeed, governance theory is often part and parcel of the strategy of good governance rather than an external observation. Against this background, our starting point is a firm commitment to the study of good governance as an empirical phenomenon rather than to governance studies as a research tradition. Indeed, it is one of the central claims of the book that the empirical implications of good governance cannot be fully grasped by remaining with the meso-level type of theory to which most governance research belongs. Clearly governance research provides an important source of debate, to which we shall return, but our application of the governance concept involves no initial concern for governance as a research program, be it in terms of the theoretical coherence of the concept of governance itself (Hughes 2012) or the development of a conventional parsimonious research program around this concept (Frederickson et al. 2012). Providing some empirical parameters to good governance may still prove enough of a challenge, given that we are dealing with a complex or even heterogeneous phenomenon, which can be observed in and across a variety of different dimensions, levels, territories, institutions and policies. Setting aside for now its many local variations, however, the overall strategy of good governance can be seen as a set of guidelines for politico-administrative practice in three relatively distinct ways. First and foremost, it is a particular thinking about how to govern, or simply how to conduct public governance. But it also a political agenda, i.e. a particular set or even hierarchy of policy issues as well as a way of framing these issues. Finally, good governance involves particular stances and notions about the organizational reform of the public sector. As such, good governance covers three basic politico-administrative domains: public governance, policy and organization.

Good governance as self-governance The preoccupation with governance indicates a particular concern with the problem of steering. In theory as well as practice, the underlying point of the governance perspective is to relocate politics and administration from the problem of the state to the problem of steering, or, put differently, to reframe the state as one particular construct that can be utilized within the more general problematics of government (Rose & Miller, 1992). This general problematic of government is essentially instrumental and practical; it is concerned with how to govern, or, if we are to do away with the remaining state connotations of government: how to steer. Correspondingly, good governance is technical (or technocratic, in the proper sense of the word) before anything else: it is concerned with the humble and mundane mechanisms by which authorities seek to instantiate government (Rose & Miller, 1992: 183). The end result of good governance is specific techniques of government, and its main ambition is continuous innovation and refinement of these techniques. Correspondingly, one very basic way to circumscribe good governance is in terms of the techniques that it deploys. These techniques include, for example Total Quality Management (TQM) such as the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) developed specifically for the administrations of EU member states (REF), taximeter management or other forms of funding by units of production, self-development plans for job-seekers, public campaigns, competitive bidding, benchmarking, peer-review, management by contracts, inspection etc. We do not purport to present a full list of the techniques relevant to good governance at this point, but merely to provide an indication of what we are looking for at this level of analysis. Techniques can be more or less complex and more or less specific in terms of policy focus, ranging for example from simple guidelines for risk assessment in relation to alcohol consumption to budgetary mechanism covering the entire administration of a given political system. The techniques of good governance all aim, however, to establish a framework for self-governance. The techniques of good governance are deeply ambiguous: on the one hand, they presuppose and in moist cases also aim to strengthen the self-governening capacity of organizations and/or individuals, but on they other hand they approach this self-governing capacity as a resource of government; as

something that will increase the effectiveness of government if provided with proper guidance and direction. The heterogeneous array of good governance techniques does not form a consistent field of intervention in itself, but rather a domain of circulating instruments and mechanisms that can be deployed in relation to specific problems and imagined solutions. This takes place through what has been called translation between techniques and programs (Rose & Miller, 1992, Power XXXX). Programs are identification of particular problems in the conventional sense of a reality failing to live up to a desired state of affairs. We can also talk of strategies: identification of problems and possible solutions leads to specification of means and ends; of certain goals and ways to achieve these. Although programs and strategies can sometimes be fairly abstract and inter-textual, they are often also very straightforward to locate: we find them laid out rather clearly in the reports, white papers, proposals and position papers of ministries, agencies and organizations, as well as in certain types of legislative acts. Good governance strategies are diverse, but they share a common language of problematization, including possible solutions. On this level then, good governance amounts to a strategy of mobilization. This strategy involves, on the one hand, a call for flexible integration of various forms of knowledge, expertise and resources to tackle complex or wicked policy problems and provide sufficient innovation and ownership of solutions, and, on the other hand, an appropriation of democratic vocabulary in terms of inclusion, accountability and participation. Techniques and programs do not exist in a vacuum. They are constituted in relation to specific rationalities. In most formulations, rationalities are treated as being largely akin to discourses or paradigms (Rose & Miller, 1992..). Taking this approach in a slightly more functionalist direction, we can distinguish between two aspects of the issue of rationality. At the most basic level, the rationalities are determined by particular symbolically generalized mediums of communication such as political power, money, law, love, truth, news value etc. (REF). Such mediums define a specific rationality in the very simplest sense: through binary oppositions such government/opposition, employer/worker, true/false etc. Mediums and their codes isolate certain communicative domains, also known as function systems the political, economy, science, family etc. within which a number of preconditions and

motives can be taken as given. In this respect, the question of rationality is a question of orientation towards mediums and their respective systems. But the question of rationality also refers to the more specific semantic configurations that have developed in relation to the symbolically generalized mediums and their codes. It is on this level that we can talk of various political rationalities in terms of semantics of welfare, justice, freedom etc. It is of course tempting to think of good governance as a particular kind of political rationality in this sense. This would finally provide some coherence to a phenomenon that has so far appeared as rather heterogeneous on the levels of techniques and strategies. But the empirical reality of good governance, unfortunately, is not coherent on the level of rationality either. For one, good governance is not restricted to the political domain in the narrow sense. Although we focus good governance as politico-administrative strategy, i.e. as a question of public governance, the majority of its instruments and techniques are an emulation of business, science, family etc. and their various rationalities. Second, although there are clearly semantics of good governance centered around concepts such as competition, performance, quality and innovation, this semantic complex is neither coherent in itself, nor is it necessarily comprehensive in relation to good governance on the levels of strategy and techniques. Attractive as the idea may seem, strategies and techniques do not converge towards a common reference point on the level of rationalities. And vice versa: we cannot think of the strategies as being simply derived from rationalities and of techniques as the implementation of strategies. Rather, good governance emerges only as the partial coupling of certain techniques, strategies and rationalities.

The political agenda of good governance Good governance also involves a political agenda. Traditionally, a political agenda denotes a set of policies (labor market, immigration, environment etc) and political issues (unemployment, pollution, traffic etc.) presented as a rather straightforward list so as to communicate a clear hierarchy of priorities and interventions. The archetypical examples of such agendas are party programs and election campaigns. Although party programs and campaigns can certainly express ideas related to good governance, the framework of

national elections and party systems has never been the most important institutional framework for good governance. By the same token, good governance does not involve a specific ideological attachment. The argument has been made that good governance is simply a form of neo-liberalism or a form of advanced liberalism. However, good governance conforms neither to the ideology of wider rationality of liberalism in terms its agenda. The political agenda of good governance has been developed and maintained primarily by national and international technocrats, administrations and knowledge institutions. Before turning to the substance of the policy issues on the agenda of good governance, a remark on the form of these problems is needed. An absolutely crucial part of good governance is its interpretation of policy problems as wicked problems. The term wicked is widely applied, but clearly not in a consistent manner. It does, however, involve one or more of the following properties. For one, wickedness refers to the transgressing nature of most current policy problems. Policy problems are typically not limited to a specific functional domain and its corresponding policy area (education, health etc.) and neither is it limited to a particular level of governance (global, regional, national or local). Policy problems and any attempt to solve them have effects across a number of dimensions and levels. Secondly, wickedness refers to the complexity of policy problems. The full set of causes of a problem is hard to come by and the computational power needed to sort out their dependencies far from given. Third, wickedness refers to the mounting risks involved in policy making. Policy decisions are increasingly made in a horizon of global risks where unintended and potentially irreversible consequences are always lurking, placing policy making in a perpetual state of risk management. Consequently and finally, solutions to wicked problems are necessary responses to actual or potential crises and dangers. The challenge is not to reach political compromises between interests and identities, but to conduct prudent risk management. The list of wicked problems is open-ended and changing, but we can none the less point to three areas of particular importance to good governance: the development of a public administration policy, strengthening competition and maintenance of security.

Public administration policy is the simple act of making the entire administration of a political system the object of policy formulation. Simple as this is, it clearly involves a particular kind of policy that is internal compared to the various objects of regulation outside of the political system. For the same reason, public administration policy is by definition cross-sectoral or even reflexive in relation to conventional regulatory or distributive policies, pertaining to the premises of the latter regardless of their functional specification. As such, public administration policy is clearly not a policy in the conventional sense of an institutionalized sector largely corresponding to a specified area or sub-area in the portfolio of particular ministries, departments and directorates of a political system. Although specific agencies or institutions charged with strengthening and developing the public administration can be found everywhere, public administration policy is institutionalized much less consistently than the standardized list of ministerial policies found in most political systems. Of course, no political system has ever come into existence without constitutional discussions, more or less openly, about basic polity design and the role of the public administration within this framework. Turning public administration into policy, however, departs decisively from this constitutional approach. The purpose of public administration policy is not constitutional reform or rethinking basic polity principles. Neither does it have much to do with the conventional discussions about the degree of compliance with Weberian ideal types. In general, public administration takes over where constitutional issues stop. Public administration policy takes the constitutional framework as given and works at the level of budgeting techniques, management philosophy, training and education, wage negotiations and salaries, citizen involvement, project organization etc. As such, public administration policy is a rather recent invention. Historically, the different objects of public administration policy have not emerged and developed as the result of a common strategic policy framework. For the better part of their life, budgeting techniques have been the result of a mix between technological innovation, political needs and institutional path-dependency. The preoccupation with continuous training and qualification of public servants is a much later addition, prompted by the inclusion of education as key aspect of labor market negotiations in the public and private sector etc. But irrespective of

their diverse histories, these different domains become increasingly linked during the 1980s and coalesce into a common policy framework concerned with their mutual interdependence as dimensions of a common strategy for the development of the public sector. The is of course dependent on regional, national and local circumstances, but none the less the timing is remarkably alike between a significant number of countries, settings and organizations. An important part of this development is New Public Management (NPM). In many ways, NPM has been conducive for the formation of public administration policy. However, public administration policy cannot be reduced to NPM as the emergence of public administration policy was well under way before NPM, and public administration policy will clearly also outlive NPM. As established by the various landmark definitions, NPM remains a specific market-based approach to public administration, setting aside for now the issue of how to disaggregate this approach into various components (Pollit, Hood, Dunleavy). The degree to which NPM constitutes a coherent paradigm and whether it has been more or less consistently implemented in various countries, which has been the main themes of the NPM debate, are of course valuable questions, but from our perspective the importance of NPM lies first and foremost in the way it has contributed to the routinization of reflection about otherwise disparate elements of public administration within a common policy framework. Put differently, NPM has provided a reference point that has helped bring about a fully fledged public administration policy. In contrast to the internal focus of public administration policy, structural competition policy is directed towards objects of regulation outside the political system in a more conventional fashion, but it also lacks the contours of a distinct sector or ministerial policy. Structural competition policy is decidedly cross-sectoral, tying together established policies or rather certain areas of these policies the most important of which are enterprise, labor market, education, science, innovation and to some extent macro-economics and tax policy. Structural competition policy functions as a meta-policy that establish interdependencies between certain policy areas according to a common framework of interpretation. What is particular about structural competition policy is not that it establishes a new object of

intervention, but rather that it frames and connects existing policies and their various regulative domains according to a shared strategic orientation. The origins of this idea are found in economical theory and policy, in particular the distinction between business cycles and the structural dimension of the economy. Whereas cyclical instruments are determined by the fluctuations of the economy, mostly short-term and monetary and financial in nature, structural polices are long-term and directed at improving the basic structures of the economy. For the same reason, structural policy instruments are not primarily macro-economical, but directed at business structure, labor market function, education and research. However, structural competition policy also has its roots in the idea that globalization implies a sweeping transformation not just of the economy, but also of culture, communication and the social domain in the widest sense. The exact nature of globalization remains in contention, also for structural competition policy, but none the less the force of globalization defines the most basic challenges and conditions of structural competition policy. The most basic idea of structural competition policy from the wider globalization debate is the notion that regional, national and local communities are in a state of global competition. Growth and development is dependent on the ability of nations and localities to establish a position in the global marketplace by having a clear business strategy about the desired business structure and a instruments providing business with the best possible framework to operate in terms of flexible labor markets, a workforce with the proper competencies, infrastructure, acceptable tax levels etc. As such, structural competition policy is a form of enterprise policy, although not simply in the sense of a revamped industrial policy, but rather of a cross-sectoral strategy to foster and nurture enterprise. The exact composition of instruments may of course vary, but the basic line of reasoning is rather consistent: states, regional and local authorities needs to develop a business plan and making a list of necessary policy adjustments according to this plan in order to thrive or even survive in the state of global competition. The final item on the political agenda of good governance is security policies. Security policies are a much more heterogeneous set of policies than the sectors and domains included under the umbrella of structural competition policy. Although globalization forms

an equally important interpretative framework for the current policy understanding of security issues, we cannot speak of a consistent security policy even on the level of metapolicies. The list of key security policies includes the conventional domains of military and policy security as well as information security, environmental issues and energy as well as the array of biopolicies including not only public health, but also consumer safety, the workplace etc. Additionally, welfare policies are increasingly being reframed as a question of security rather than benefits, rights and entitlement. In spite of their rather disparate nature, the different items on the list of security policies do share the common feature that they somehow aim to provide security as well as the fundamental notion that threats and risks are growing at an exponential rate because of globalization. In the area of military and policy security, asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, transnational crime organizations constitute the new threat scenario. Threats to corporate and political information, either in terms of secrecy or an operative communicative infrastructure, are threatened by intrusion from anywhere on the globe. Climate changes, pollution and environmental dangers poses and immediate threat on a global scale. Overpopulation, pandemics, multi-resistant bacteria and unknown consequences of genetic modification are just the most self-evidently global domains of public health. Welfare is not so much about labor entitlements as security for those damaged by globalization. In some cases, the does establish new links between hitherto policy areas, such as the securitization of climate change and energy. But in other cases the involved policy areas function very much according to their own logic and traditions, sharing nothing more than a common (re)orientation towards security in the face of mounting dangers and risks posed by the process of globalization. Even more than in the case of structural competition policy, security policies are more or less by definition posed as necessary policies: they are not the result of mediation between social interests or identities, but rather of necessary risk management. Security decisions are not based on deliberation between particular political interests, but rather battles between interpretations of available evidence and knowledge about minimizing risks and dangers the effects of various types of intervention. In the final instance, the necessity of security policies comes from the fact that they are assumed to be


decisive for our survival. Even though they are far from always presented that dramatically, security policies always operate in the horizon of fatal and irreversible consequences.

Good governance and organizational (re)form The final dimension of good governance concerns the issue of organization. In addition to its array of instruments and techniques of steering and its policy agenda, the strategy of good governance also provides a paradigm for public sector organization and reform. The core idea of good governance in this respect is the inadequacy of bureaucratic organization. Specific critiques can be more or less fundamental, ranging from the notion that the bureau is an obsolete form of organization to more compromising ideas about the bureau as a necessary, but also insufficient form of public organization. Good governance provides two basic alternatives to bureaucratic organization: more or less anarchical forms of organization (markets and quasi-markets) or networks. Whereas anarchical organization is usually seen as more or less antithetical to the hierarchy of the bureau, networks offer a third way between hierarchical and anarchical organization. The first problem is known generically as fragmentation, usually meaning the inability of functionally delimited bureaus to handle wicked problems. The basic principle of bureaucracy is functional specification and distinction between bureaus with specific tasks and competencies. The strengths of functional differentiation are well known: focus, specialization, professionalisation, elimination of overlapping competencies etc. But the problems are equally well known: isolation, compartementalization, lack of coordination, infighting between bureaus etc. The main claim of good governance in this respect is that problems related to functional specification has been exasperated to the extent that they potentially make bureaucratic organization dysfunctional. The problems related to functional specification have always been endemic to bureaucratic organization, but, so the good governance logic goes, the rapid growth in wicked policy problems means that decisions taken within specific bureaus limited by their own operational logics and concerns are now more likely than ever to be inefficient or even damaging.


The problem also extends to other founding bureaucratic principle of organization, i.e. that of the hierarchy. In conventional bureaucratic theory, functional differentiation and hierarchy are mutually supporting principles of organization, providing a kind of organizational equilibrium. Organizing bureaus as parallel hierarchies is thus the conventional solution to the problem of coordination, involving a cabinet or another organizational forum of bureau leaders coordinating their bureaus top down. According to good governance, this has, however, become a completely inadequate solution. For one, the main expertise required to meet current policy are found among the rank and file. Coordination between bureaus therefore required on all levels of the bureau, and not simply at the apex of the pyramid. Moreover, bureau leaders are assumed not to be completely in control of the vast organizations that they are formally heading, or at least subject the conventional problems of the principal-agent relationship. In most cases, bureau leaders are also politicians as well as administrators, making them prone to interpret policy problems politically rather than substantially. In addition to the problems related to the surge of wicked policy problems, good governance also subjects bureaucracies to critiques from the perspective of efficiency. On the one hand, this involves the more or less standard red tape accusations of rigid procedures, slow pace, stalling, the culture of street-level bureaucrats etc. On the other hand, this line of critique involves the more decidedly economist notion that bureaucracy is an inefficient form of organization in terms of public spending. The core of the latter argument is that budget maximizing it more or less endemic to bureaucratic organization. In addition to the organizational principles of bureaucracy, the economist critique also involves assumptions about motivational structures and utility functions on the micro-level, but the end result is that bureaucracy is seen as a form of organization prone to sub-optimal results and spending on the systemic level. Good governance can also involve critiques of bureaucratic organization of the more moral persuasion. This line of arguments contrasts bureaucracy with the entrepreneurial and free spirit required of public (and private) employees in the modern workplace. The entrepreneurial spirit requires active participation, innovation, (self-) development as well as social and personal competencies far beyond the merely professional, which can easily be

contrasted with the archetypical figure of the bureaucratic as a rule-bound and rigidly professional servant. As demonstrated convincingly by Paul du Gay, this line of argument has clear parallel in humanistic critiques of bureaucracy found in Christian theology as well as the political theory of emancipation. Whether du Gays defense of bureaucracy is the only response to bureaucracy bashing, is, however, another matter. As noted, good governance provides two organizational alternatives to bureaucracy. The first of these is to opt for anarchical forms of organization in the shape of markets and quasi-markets. This option is rooted mostly in the economist critique of bureaucracy and constitutes an important part of the NPM approach. The suggestion is that the reliance on markets and market-like forms of organization is more economically efficient. The preference for markets may result in options such as contracting out, selling of public assets, creating of public-private companies in the area of energy, transportation and communication etc. The more important part of the market solution in good governance, however, pertains to the creation of internal quasi-markets among formerly bureaucratic organizations, which are then reshaped as autonomous businesses subject to some level of competition and pervasive performance measurement. Posing anarchical forms of organization as the solution are clearly not based on seeing fragmentation as the problem: fragmentation is rather seen as means to achieve more efficiency, balanced by the creation of centralized agencies charges with performance measurement. For the same reason, NPM has been criticized for having no solution to the challenge of coordination, or more to the point: making coordination effectively impossible due to increased fragmentation. Such observations form an important backdrop for the theory and practice of network governance, i.e. the creation, utilization and management of networks in public governance. Network governance takes the notion of wicked policy problems and the need for coordination in and across functional domains and levels as their starting point, arriving at network organization as the optimal form of organization to meet this challenge: All these transformations require the diffusion of interactive, multilayered networking as the organizational form of the public sector. This is tantamount to the reform of the state. Indeed, the rational bureaucratic model of the state of the industrial era is in complete contradiction to the demands and processes of the network society (Cast ells 2006, p.16).

The strategic use of networks in contrast to the addition of yet more formal-bureaucratic organizations and reliance on detailed legal regulation does not take place at the margins of the public sector, but provides the basic road map for current and future organization and policy development in a number of the most advanced public authorities. Although Castells notion of the networked state poses a particularly strong version of bureaucracy bashing in favor of networks, more conventional versions of the argument are still highly critical of bureaucracy even though they see networks rather as a supplement to bureaucratic organization. In the latter version networks are seen as a specific remedy to the shortcomings of bureaucracy. The function of such network vary from policy formulation to implementation, as does their size, stability, the level of inclusion and their type of anchorage in the political system. But the network paradigm forms an essential part of good governance. It comes in the shape of a call for increased public-private corporation, partnerships, stakeholder involvement and public innovation. Networks are crucial to the mobilization strategy of good governance, given that they form the organizational bedrock for the involvement of experts, representatives of organizations and businesses as well as citizens seen to carry resources of importance to the solution of specific wicked problems. Networks are also posed as the solution to the challenge of inter-departmental coordination on and across levels of governance. Finally networks can be seen as a purely intra-organizational addition to the formal offices of the bureau in terms of project organization, teams and groups.

Governance on governance The most ardent observers of good governance as politico-administrative strategy are found in the growing field of governance research. The relation between the governmental strategy of good governance and governance research is rather intimate, involving a substantial degree of conceptual and ideational cross-fertilization (Jessop 2012, Meuleman 2008) as well as strong linkages through consulting, seminars, think-tanks, personnel exchange etc. Such cross-fertilization is of course fundamentally positive and in keeping with the tradition in the larger realm of public administration and public policy research,

which forms the primary background for governance research. The potential downside, however, is of course a lack of distance between governance research and its object of observation. This is not meant to suggest a retreat to the safety of the academy in fear of engaging the practical side of government, but on the other hand the virtually indistinguishable conceptual and ideational framework of governance research and good governance does pose some limits on the possible strategies of observation and analysis. In order gauge the implications of good governance more fully, an alternative framework is needed. Governance studies do not form a research programme in the narrow sense, but it does revolve around a shared interest in the growth, management and performance of markets and networks in public governance. These forms of governance are then contrasted with conventional forms of governance, making the distinction between hierarchy, market and networks the constitutive conceptual framework of governance research. This framework reflects the distinction between state, market and civil society, which has served as the dominant image of modernity since the birth of sociology. Current governance research is certainly not the first to apply this distinction in political and administrative science. Previous variations include hierarchy, market and negotiation (Dahl and Lindblom, 1953), politics, market and persuasion (Lindblom, 1977), hierarchy, market and relational contracts (Williamson, 1985) and hierarchy, market and solidarity (Kaufmann, 1983; Offe, Streeck and Schmitter, 1985), as demonstrated convincingly be Helmut Willke (1998: 88). The distinction between hierarchies, markets and networks used almost univocally in current governance research basically continues this tradition (Bevir and Rhodes, 2003; Jessop, 2003; Kickert Klijn, and Koppenjan, 1997; Kettl, 2002; Koppenjan and Klijn, 2004; Srensen and Torfing, 2007; Mayntz, 2003; Rhodes 1997, 2003, Scharpf 1993). Although state and hierarchy are not strictly synonymous, the two terms, together with the concept of bureaucracy, are used more or less interchangeably to describe a broad state tradition of steering and coordination in the governance debate. The notion of governance based on the market mechanism is used more or less invariably in governance debates. The relation between the networks and civil society is perhaps less straightforward, but most definitions of the network tradition of governance none the less retain the essential

attributes of civil society. Although the concept of networks was originally imported to governance research from organisational sociology and work on inter-organizational networks, the broad network tradition of governance is often defined in terms of cultural and communicative attributes traditionally seen as the province of civil society, such as dialogue or solidarity (Jessop, 2003: 102), reflexive rationality (Bang, 2003; Torfing, 2007), a culture of reciprocity and utilization of trust as a medium of exchange (Bevir and Rhodes, 2003: 55, Consedine and Lewis, 2003: 133). Governance research has produced an astounding number of permutations and positions (see, Rhodes, Jessop, Meulemann, for overviews), but they essentially remain within the framework of state, market and networks. Within this framework, governance research also displays a rather pronounced tendency to argue in favour of network governance. Governance research is almost unanimous in its critique of bureaucracy as an insufficient form of governance. Although networks are typically presented as a necessary addition rather than a wholesale alternative to bureaucracy, there is clear tendency towards bureaucracy bashing in governance research. The use of market mechanisms in public governance, on the other hand, is typically seen to involve the danger of market failure. Correspondingly, governance research tends to focus on networks as an optimal third way between the over-steering of bureaucratic governance and the under-steering of the market (SrensenXX). The result is an extensive discussion of network performance from the perspective of regulatory efficiency. Inputs to this item on the governance research agenda include studies of the extent to which networks have contributed to policy formulation and implementation within various institutional settings and policy areas (OToole/Meier 2004, Hall/OToole 2004, Rodriguez et.al. 2007, Imperial 2005, Provan/Milward 1995 (ikke printet), discussions of the structural features that enhance or hinder network performance (Moynihan 2008, Provan/Kenis 2007, Graddy/Chin 2006, Berry et. Al. 2004, OToole/Meier 2004b, Keast+ 2004, Mandell 2001, Millward/Provan 2001, 1998), and not least discussions about how about how to increase network performance through network management (Rethemeyer/Hatmaker 2007, Herranz 2007, Agranoff 2006, McGuire 2002, KKK 1997, Klijn/Koppenjan 2000).

However, governance research also includes a strand of thinking that is highly critical of the preoccupation with regulatory efficiency. This line of argument draws, on the one hand, on the discourse analytical approach to power and ideology and, on the other hand, on the theory of deliberative democracy (Fischer 2003, 1995, 1993, Hajer and Wagenaar 2003). The critical position advanced by this type of discursive or deliberative policy analysis has been developed in marked opposition to the perceived uncritical nature of the technocratic focus on regulatory efficiency in governance research (and public policy research in general). This critique involves, first, an image of the technocratic approach as an instance of totalizing (and usually failed) social engineering, highlighting the limits of empiricist epistemology, evaluation methods and theoretical models of the policy process, the lack of irrefutable positive effects on socio-economic development and not least the unwillingness of the technocratic approach to engage the issues of power, subordination and totalizing tendencies in public governance. Second, the technocratic approach is blamed for elitism and insufficient attention to the issues of broad democratic participation and deliberative quality in the policy process quality of public policy-making (Fischer 1995, 2003). Applying the standard of regulatory efficiency to network governance and public governance in general can, according to the this approach, be seen as the key instance of the technocratic tradition and its lack of critical potential: the focus on regulatory efficiency displays the kind of bureaucratic top-down rationality with little or no attention paid to issues of participation and deliberation considered emblematic of the technocratic framework. This has led some observers of network proliferation and recent transformations in public governance to supplement the standard of regulatory efficiency with criteria of democratic performance. Within this group of contributions there is widespread agreement that networks cannot be considered democratic from the perspective of minimalist, liberal and electoral democracy. But on the other hand, networks are seen to harbour substantial democratic potential based on alternative criteria such as inclusion, deliberative quality and accountability (Klijn/Skelcher 2007, Mathur/Skelcher 2007, Srensen/Torfing 2007, Srensen 2002, Fung/Wright 2001). This conclusion has, however, also been strongly opposed by proponents of radical democracy. In a particularly exemplary argument, Mark Bevir reiterates the argument by

bracketing good governance and the bulk of governance research as one and the same instance of system governance that may invoke democratic ideal, but essentially uses such ideal to cloak the technocratic nature of governance (Bevir, 2006). Agents in favour of network governance may invoke any number of democratic ideals such as openness, participation and accountability, but do so in a manner subordinating democracy to efficiency and stability. The use of networks in public policy is rarely, if it all, meant as an instrument of democracy, but based rather on neo-institutional and communitarian concerns for trust and social consensus over values, policies, and the legitimacy of the political institutions themselves as a precondition for efficiency and overall systemic stability. Democracy is not the real concern of network governance: at its best, so the argument goes, network governance blends tensions between the goals of broadening participation and preserving existing authorities (Bevir, 2006, p.434). While warnings about undemocratic practices in public governance should of course never be taken lightly, the widespread agreement among contemporary proponents of critical policy analysis on the fundamentally uncritical nature of the systemic and technocratic strand of thought seems questionable. In more general terms, the fact that the debate on the role of networks in public policy is currently being caught up in a distinction between critical and technical approaches to network performance, largely resembling the division of labour between normative theory and empirical studies in the larger research community of political science, seems quite unfortunate. It seems a more productive strategy to maintain that the technocratic orientation within policy studies implies a critical attitude of its own and that the issue of reiterating democratic standards, critical as it is to normative theory, does not always make that much of a difference when brought down to the level of operational standards.. The main problem with governance research, however, is not a question of technocratic vs. democratic or more or less radical versions of the latter as standards of evaluation. The pivotal problems, according to our view, are rather the conceptual and analytical shortcomings of the underlying framework of state, market and networks as a theory the political system in relation to other systems, as well as a theory of power.


The sociology of network society To some extent, recent debates on governance have reflected the deep-seated dogma in most critical theory, and perhaps more generally, that technocratic reasoning is the very definition of uncritical theory and practice. It is beyond the scope of this article to pursue the reasons for this attitude towards functionalism, but part of the explanation is undoubtedly the widespread (and understandable) fatigue with the kind of grand social theory exercised by Parsons. Interpreted in this way, functionalism can be seen to embody exactly the kind of top-down and technocratic system governance, which either excludes or co-opts the experiences and capacities of citizens and civil society organisations and replaces real participation and deliberation with forms of inclusion and discourse fitted to the needs of systemic stability and control (Bevir 2006). This critique, however, rests on an unfortunate blurring of functionalism, technocratic thinking and the notion of system governance. Whereas good governance is certainly often functionalist, it is debatable whether this is inherently a problem related to technocratic rationality, let alone systems thinking. Indeed, the widespread rejection of functionalism and the extension of this rejection to include systems theory in general is the main reason for a key problem with current governance research: its lack of a comprehensive macrosociology (and almost univocal preference for meso-level arguments). Whether caused by the preoccupation with putting Parsons to rest or not, governance research has reached a macro-sociological impasse on a number of accounts. First of all, governance research and good governance has become virtually indistinguishable with respect to the utilization of functionalist arguments about necessary adaptation of public policy and organization to external circumstances such as globalization, fragmentation, competition and technological development. On this point, the work of Manuel Castells is used more or less explicitly (1996/2000). In Castells view, current society is defined by the social morphology and transformative capacity of networks based first and foremost on the potentials of new information technologies: The network society is not the future that we must reach as the next stage of human progress by embracing the new technological paradigm. It is our society, in different

degrees, and under different forms depending on countries and cultures. Any policy, any strategy, any human project, has to start from this basic fact. It is not our destination, but our point of departure to wherever we want to go, be it heaven, hell, or just a refurbished home (Castells, 2006, p. 12). The network society is new in the sense that networks are no longer relegated to private or social life but have become a key to economic production as well as public policy making and implementation. The network society consist of networks operated by information and communication technologies that generate, process, and distribute information on the basis of the knowledge accumulated in the nodes of the network. Castells is the first to stress that all new forms of societal organization are only conditioned, not determined, by technology. Rather, society shapes technology according to the needs, values, interests and identities of people who make use of it. In fact, the generation and accumulation of wealth, power, and knowledge are growing increasingly dependent on the ability of actors and institutions to perform communicatively and effectively in the emerging network society by reaping the benefits of the new technology paradigm. The notion of network society has, not surprisingly, become the crown witness for governance researchers with respect to the proliferation of networks. Castells identifies network proliferation as the key aspect of globalization and thus at the heart of the challenges faced by states and political authorities as well as making networks the necessary response to these challenges. Castells analysis of network society has been used as evidence for a networked state as a necessary response to globalization in governance research and good governance alike. As such, it is perhaps the use of Castells work rather than the ghost of Parsons that constitutes the main line of functionalist reasoning in current governance research. Although Castells has denounced the misuse of his work by journalists and others, including agents of good governance, the problem with the concept of network society is perhaps not simply a question of misrepresentation and popularization. The basis for Castells analysis is still the conventional macro-sociological distinction between state, economy and civil society. Technology is basically seen by Castells as a motor that changes constitutive structures and processes in and between the political (most notably states),

economy and the social (or civil society). Although Castells takes great care to avoid simple causalities in between these domains, the technological transformation of the economic domain does take up a central position. Economy and the mode of production may not be primary, but it is still a distinct and implicitly privileged domain in Castells analysis , and changes in this domain do seem to put states under pressure, making their survival a matter of their ability to implement a network paradigm of governance. On a more fundamental level, Castells analysis is also exemplary in its reliance on the macro-sociology of state, market and civil society. The notion of network society remains firmly rooted in this framework. What is never asked is whether (late) modern society is actually still structured according to this schematic a question that certainly does not become more prominent in governance research. The question is, however, absolutely crucial since it not only answers the quintessential macro-sociological question about the basic organizing principle of society, but also the question of how to grasp the political system and its particular mode of governance in relation to other systems and their modes of governance. The macro-sociological analysis questioning the relevance of state, market and civil society most directly is that of Niklas Luhmann. Luhmanns basic macro-sociological claim is that functional differentiation gradually constitutes itself as the primary form of differentiation in society throughout the historical era of modernity. Luhmann initially declares that the onset of functional differentiation is hard to date, being subject to historical traces reaching back well into the 14 th century and 15th century, but none the less comes to the conclusion that stratified society has decidedly given way to a society defined primarily by functional differentiation during the latter third of the 18th century (1997, p.734). Stratification and other forms of differentiation such as territorial segmentation and centre-periphery relations obviously persists in modern society, but the core of Luhmanns analysis is the proposition that these other forms of differentiation becomes secondary to functional differentiation throughout the historical era of modernity. A further implication of the primacy of functional differentiation is that societies in plural have to be substituted for society in the singular. In the historical era of modernity, there is only on society: a world society fundamentally decomposed into


function systems such as the political system, law, economy, science, family, religion, health, mass media, education, art etc (Luhmann 1997, p. 145). Although functional differentiation is of course widely acknowledged dynamic, the claim that functional differentiation should be seen as the primary and constitutive form of differentiation in a world society potentially conflicts with conventional assumptions and claims in social and political science. For one thing, the Marxist notion that society is primarily a class society, or at least a primarily stratified society, is rejected. In a wider sense, the assumption that society is basically organised according to the dynamics of having or exercising power vis--vis being the subject of power, endemic to most theories on power, is rejected. Similarly, the primacy of exclusive territorial segmentation between nation-states that still dominate the bulk of political science and law are replaced by the primacy of functional differentiation. Moreover, the claim about the existence of a functionally differentiated world society deviates from virtually any another concept of society in the sense that it rejects the basic schematics of differentiation and integration. Although internally differentiated, conventional concepts of society presuppose an outer limit of such differentiation, be it cultural, normative, linguistic etc., guaranteeing the possibility of integration in spite of differentiation. Luhmann sees no such possibility of integration in the functionally differentiated world society. When seen specifically as a question of the historical emergence and consolidation of function systems, the process of functional differentiation is defined by two key developments: the increased territorial inclusiveness and increased communicative exclusiveness of function systems. On the one hand, each function system becomes increasingly open to anyone, anytime and anywhere throughout the historical era of modernity, aided by the development of communication and transportation technologies. As such, Luhmanns analysis of functional differentiation implies a fairly far -reaching claim about globalisation, according to which each function system has become a global system of communication and interaction. At the same time, each function systems has become increasingly isolated, specialised and homogenous in terms of communicative rationality; a process described as self-referential closure around a particular symbolically generalised medium of communication (Luhmann 1997, p.708).

Essentially, a function system is nothing but the innumerable past and present communicative events and processes relying on a particular symbolically generalised medium, aided by other communication structures such technological mediums of diffusion, specialised discourse and language etc. Symbolically generalised mediums include power in the case of the political system (2000c, pp.18), the medium of law in the legal system (2004, pp. 173), money in the economic system (1988, pp. 213), truth in the scientific system (1990, pp. 308), love in the case of the family (1986, pp.18) etc. As Luhmann states, the most successful and relevant communication in current society is premised on such mediums, and consequently the formation of social systems are directed towards the corresponding functions (1984, p. 222). The combined dynamic of increasing territorial inclusivity and communicative exclusivity of function systems adds up to a completely differentiated world society without recourse to any meta-principle capable of ensuring integration between or beyond the communicative rationality of function systems and their constitutive mediums.

A political theory of network society The framework of state, market and civil society is not only integral to governance research as heuristic conceptualization of organization and modes of governance it is also endemic to the political theories deployed by observes critical of good governance. Even the most ardent critique tends to apply the framework of state, market and civil society as a sociological underpinning of political theory. Castells himself provides a clear example in this respect. Castells original analysis pitted the new techno-economic system identified in The Rise of the Network Society against the salient trend, in terms of social movements and politics adapting, resisting, counteracting the network society mapped out in The power of Identity (Castells 2001). End of Millennium, in turn, describes the global outcome of the struggle between these two opposing forces. Although Castells analysis ascribes a prominent position to power in this way, it clearly also frames the issue of power within the conventional dialectic of economy and state (politics), or, in more general terms, within the conventional macro-sociological schema of state, market and civil society. Castells main ambition is to map out how the proliferation of networks riding on the back of information

technology change the game of economy and state, presenting us with the image of globalizing capital, states under stress and social movements with a technologically enhanced potential for resistance or outright revolution. Although we find the sociological analysis of the network society to be comprehensive in many ways, indispensable to the understanding of the rationality of good governance, we also see a need for a more focused analysis of the network society in terms of power. On the most fundamental level, the network society is making the opposition between power and freedom increasingly untenable. This is not to say that the historical particularity of network society resides in granting a final victory of power over freedom or vice versa. On this point, we side with Foucault in asserting that in the final instance, there is no opposition between power and freedom: the mutual dependence of power and freedom is an ontological condition, not a historical invention. In Foucaults terms, power can only be exercised when freedom is present, and that freedom is only possible within relations of power. On the other hand, the relation of power and freedom is clearly not invariable. As is well known, Foucault found a number of crucial historical shifts between various power-knowledge assemblages, most notably sovereignty, discipline and biopolitics, which can then be supplemented by the fully fledged notion of control society suggested by Deleuze. But whatever their historical particularity, none of these dispositifs are structured around an opposition between power and freedom. The historical particularity of network society, in other words, clearly does not reside in overcoming an assumed opposition between power and freedom, but rather in a qualitative shift in the mutual dependence of power and freedom. Our understanding of this shift follows the simple proposition that the network society is, in terms of power, a control society (Deleuze, 1995). Control is Deleuzes term for the form of power rising from crisis of disciplinary institutions in the postwar period. In spite of its widespread application, the notion of control remains rather illusive. Our initial definition is, however, rather straightforward : control denotes a form of governance that takes the active embrace of freedom and nurturing of self-governance as its primary means to whatever end is being pursued. Or, in other words, control is the form of power exercised through good governance.

After all, sovereignty and discipline are in a certain sense cruder in their approach to freedom and self-governance, maintaining their rule through threats and intimidation and later through the normalizing standards of discipline and bio-political regulation. The efficiency of rule, for sovereignty as well as discipline, depends on the ability to pose strict limits on freedom and self-governance. One might say that freedom is still presupposed by sovereignty and discipline, but not necessarily appreciated. For control, by contrast, the efficiency of rule and the capacity for self-governance increase proportionally. Whereas the disciplinary apparatus sought to incur the self-discipline of subjects, control operates through self-control. The difference here is anything but purely terminological and inconsequential: whereas disciplinary technologies and instruments sought to teach the subject self-discipline in accordance with rigidly prescribed standards of behavior, thought and physical constitution and expression, i.e. command of ones body, self-limitation, frugality, rejection of animal impulses etc., control asks it subjects to transgress limitations, think outside the box and push the borders of the accepted. This nominally simply, but in practice rather complex, shift from the normalizing power of discipline to seeing the maximizing of freedom and selfgovernance as the key instrument of power leads to a certain conundrum or even paradox for conventional theories of power: the efficiency of this form and rule and governance seems to increase proportionally with the level of freedom it affords its subjects. Critical governance studies have yet to deal sufficiently with this conundrum. Critiques of good governance leveled by critical policy researchers and radical democrats still call upon the democratic and emancipatory resources located in civil society against the encroaching power of good governance. The main response, as exemplified by the notion of good governance as system governance, has been simply to reject good governance as anything but an instance of conventional totalizing power masked in democratic vocabulary. Rather than good governance itself, the critique has been directed at the claim that power and freedom is not necessarily in the kind of opposition in theory or practice presumed by critical theory. Habermas is particularly exemplary in this respect. Habermas focuses on how the modern state functions as an instrument of the market economy and a moral medium of civil

society, what makes him conclude that since Foucaults power-knowledge category is not shaped according to the latter it must obviously deny that democratic politics can be reduced to a moral and collective issue of how to reach a normative agreement in interaction and dialogue then his approach to the political must also be modelled after the instrumental subjects monologue with itself about how to maximize ones utilities and gain power over ones rational adversaries. However, this critique of Foucaults power-knowledge analyses as arbitrary and directed towards acquiring dominion over others does not follow from what Foucault himself says but from Habermass own conception of strategic action as modelled after an instrumental action that turns subjects into objects that can be manipulated and deceived. What is clearly neglected is that just as Foucaults archaeology is far from arbitrary so his genealogy is not at all directed towards the single goal of obtaining technical mastery or Herrschaft over others: Both archaeology and genealogy are put to use for understanding and explaining the various ways in which policies are authoritatively articulated and performed in history; and not from the presumption that all political ways of doing so are equally valuable, but precisely with a critical glance as to whether or not it is done truthfully and for the sake of improving the ability of laypeople to govern and take care of themselves.

This image of the poststructuralist Foucault has in turn convinced modernists like Habermas that Foucaults own discursive practice is unable to justify itself both normatively and empirically and make concessions to a self-sufficient hermeneutics and positivist technical science in which the claims of counterdiscourses count no more than those of the ruling discourses and, and thus provides us with nothing but a postmodernist rhetoric of presentation with distinctly anti-humanitarian undertones. As Habermas puts it (1987: 276), Foucaults power-knowledge analyses are characterized: (1) by the involuntary presentism of a historiography that remains hermeneutical stuck in its starting situation; (2) by the unavoidable relativism of an analysis related to the present that can understand itself only as a context-dependent practical enterprise; (3) by the arbitrary partisanship of a criticism that cannot account for its normative foundations.

This criticism does not spring from what Foucault himself says he is doing. Rather, it results from Habermases reading of his political texts as the product of a postmodern rhetoric which by not being tailored in its forms of knowledge to possibilities of application other than those of the deception and outright manipulation of self and others ends up in the very position of the repressive instrumental power that it is designed to resent. In many ways we think that Habermas is justified is his critique of postmodernism as leading to presentism, relativism and an arbitrary partisan stance. But he misses the target when it comes to Foucault. Although the latters early analyses do revolve around the issue of how technologies of power govern the formation and development of the subject in and through the exercise of sovereignty, hierarchy and discipline, this does not ipso facto prove Habermas right in arguing that Foucaults discourse has no general empirical and normative anchoring but is biased towards the genealogical investigation into the relationship between the subject, technological development and the exercise of coercive domination. In fact, this conclusion only appears, because Habermas does not have a freestanding political category and takes it for granted that the only choice we have in relation to political domination is whether it shall be reified, distorted, illegal and illegitimate or transparent, undistorted, legal and legitimate. This makes him believe that since Foucaults power analyses are evidently not about the kind of communicative action which is moral in nature and pursues a common social interest or good, it must be about the type of strategic action which is instrumental in its origin and based on an individual will to success and power. This is why we think that the ongoing debates of Habermas vs. Foucault in many ways are quite beside the point. The discussants all set out from the presumption that because Foucault is anti-essentialist, analyses political authority as genealogies of power, and regards social and political critique as depending more on the practical exercise of a critical attitude than on a universally valid critical discourse, he must also be an opponent of the search for general categories transcending time and place. Rather he must prioritize context and the historically located subjects will to power, and conceive of citizenship solely as resistance against the dominant powers that be.


However, when Foucault prioritizes genealogy, context, and the construction of subjectivity, we will argue, it is first of all, because the political as a set of regularized practices for articulating and delivering acceptable public policies operates in and through a logic of immediacy which requires that subjects possess the ability to decide and act right here and now in a risky situation characterized by a plurality of unacknowledged conditions and unintended consequences. Neither instrumental nor moral reasoning can compensate for the general type of experience with risk and contingency that enables corporeal subjects to do immediately what necessarily has to be done in the concrete situation. Both the archaeology of discourse and genealogy of power is tied to this latent project of figuring out the is, ought and could be of authoritatively articulating and performing social policy. When it comes to articulating and performing acceptable policies for a society, Foucault argues, necessity and not human interest is the general rule. This is exactly why he from the onset pays special attention to the political construction of what is to be regarded as normal, and, hence, not normal, under any given circumstances. Authorization functions through normalization and is required for making and implementing acceptable policies for a population. Whether these policies are widely agreed upon or considered legal and legitimate by this population is an entirely different question. In political life, acceptance of policy is unavoidable or necessary whether the times be characterized by conflict or consensus, disagreement or agreement, legality or illegality, legitimacy or illegitimacy, and so on. Thus, in our view the ongoing discussions of modernism vs. postmodernism in terms of the opposition between consensus and conflict, effectively help to conceal the general political problem of normalization that Foucault is raising to examine, namely how an authoritative statement about what has to be done is shaped and executed at any given moment in time. Both parties identify political authority with historical struggles for hegemony and sovereignty initiated by recurrent conflicts of interest and/or identity that have to be handled morally and institutionally if society shall not succumb to the war of all against all. They all agree that raw political power is antagonistic and a struggle on life and death, and that even the most democratic forms of political power will manifest the sovereigns coercive power over his subjects, no matter how productive and supported his power may

be. They only disagree as to whether the omnipotent threat of political power and civil war can be universally tamed and turned into a consensus by general rational means or whether it can only be dealt with momentarily and temporally by committing corporeal and historically situated subjects to resist coercive domination and deconstruct the hegemonic order for the sake of turning what is inherently an antagonistic political relationship, into an agonistic, democratic one. In focusing exclusively on whether raw, coercive political domination can be universally or only temporally domesticated and made into a reasonable mode of domination, modernists and postmodernists alike actually converts Foucaults political question of how policies are authoritatively articulated and performed in time-space into so many studies of whether or not political authority is legal, enjoy legitimacy, is responsive, produce meaningful social order and manage to meet the conflicting demands of preference calculating and identity seeking individuals, on the one hand and socially integrative interest and identity groups on the other hand. In the end, The public use of reason, legally institutionalized in the democratic process, provides the key for guaranteeing equal freedoms (Habermas 2002: 101). Thus conceived, the problem of political domination presents no special problem to the population, if it is legally circumscribed and institutionalized to optimize the free and equal access and recognition of their various interests and identities in the political decisionmaking processes. The asymmetries of autonomy and dependence that this sovereign power creates between political authorities and laypeople inside the political, when it comes to making a difference to the concrete articulation and performance of social policy are not considered at all. Hence, political authority is frozen in the modern sovereigns form of legal and legitimate domination.

Conclusion The dominant response to this challenge from critical theory in its modern and postmodern guises has mainly been to reinforce the standards of public reasoning, politics proper,

critical and active citizenship and derived from deliberative democracy and its communicative model of popular sovereignty. This is a highly problematic response. For one, it involves an empirical neglect insofar as critical theory remains too unconcerned with the fact that that political authority does not operate in the modus of sovereignty within the paradigm of network governance, but rather in the modus of security and immediate and necessary action. It also shows a normative neglect in the sense that we need to recognize the potentials for freedom in such immediate and necessary action rather than simply disregarding it as an instance of distorted communication. Reinforcing sovereignty against network governance merely serves to retract politicians the public and the media to disciplinary power and its corresponding form of thickly legitimised political dominance.


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