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Modes of Governance: A Note Towards Conceptual Clarification


  • Treib, Oliver
  • Bähr, Holger
  • Falkner, Gerda


Recently, political science has seen an intense debate about the phenomenon of “governance”. The aim of this paper is to clarify the basic concepts that are at the heart of this debate, notably “governance” and “modes of governance”. It argues that most contributions share a common concern for the relationship between state intervention and societal autonomy. But different strands of the literature highlight different facets of this continuum. Existing understandings may be classified according to whether they emphasise the politics, polity or policy dimensions of governance. We use these categories to present a structured overview of different dimensions of modes of governance as they may be found in the literature. In this context, we argue that the classification of modes of governance as “old” or “new” is of little analytical value. Some modes of governance may have been relatively new in some empirical contexts. But the same governing modes may turn out to be long-established practice in other areas. Moving from individual dimensions to systematic classification schemes and typologies of modes of governance, the paper highlights a number of shortcomings of existing schemes and suggests an approach that could avoid these weaknesses. As a first step in this approach, we take a closer look at different policy properties of governance and develop a systematic typology of four modes of governance in the policy dimension: coercion, voluntarism, targeting and framework regulation.

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  • Treib, Oliver & Bähr, Holger & Falkner, Gerda, 2005. "Modes of Governance: A Note Towards Conceptual Clarification," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 2, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eurogo:p0009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Streeck, Wolfgang, 1997. "Citizenship under regime competition: The case of the European Works Councils," MPIfG Working Paper 97/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Andrew Jordan, 1999. "European Community Water Policy Standards: Locked in or Watered Down?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 13-37, March.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:64:y:1970:i:04:p:1033-1053_13 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Knill, Christoph & Lenschow, Andrea, 2003. "Modes of Regulation in the Governance of the European Union: Towards a Comprehensive Evaluation," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 7, February.
    5. James S. Mosher & David M. Trubek, 2003. "Alternative Approaches to Governance in the EU: EU Social Policy and the European Employment Strategy," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 63-88, March.
    6. Wolfgang Streeck, 1997. "Citizenship Under Regime Competition: The Case of the ,,European Works Councils"," Jean Monnet Working Papers 9, Jean Monnet Chair.
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    Cited by:

    1. Annemarie van Zeijl-Rozema & Ron Cörvers & René Kemp & Pim Martens, 2008. "Governance for sustainable development: a framework," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(6), pages 410-421.
    2. Blom, Tannelie & Radulova, Elissaveta & Arnold, Christine, 2008. "Theorizing Modes of Governance in the EU: Institutional Design and Informational Complexity," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 4, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
    3. Arnouts, Rikke & van der Zouwen, Mariëlle & Arts, Bas, 2012. "Analysing governance modes and shifts — Governance arrangements in Dutch nature policy," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 43-50.
    4. Raphael Bossong, 2008. "The Action Plan on Combating Terrorism: A Flawed Instrument of EU Security Governance," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46, pages 27-48, January.
    5. Niamh Hardiman, 2007. "Governing the Economy," Working Papers 200739, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.

    More about this item


    governance; policy analysis; European law; open coordination; policy learning; national autonomy; interest intermediation; corporatism; pluralism; networks;

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