Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Public Governance Failures

pg. 24 : It is in this sense that the traditional, state-based conception of the international system requires redefinition. Deepened global cooperation along current lines is necessary but not sufficient. A more multidimensional and inclusive approach to setting norms and generating collective action is needed if we are to succeed in addressing the market and public governance failures that have accompanied globalization.

Readers' Guide Comment on “multidimensional and inclusive approach“      


The constituent groups that could be included in the process of generating collective action are not defined. WEF does not name workers, women, indigenous people, youth, small island countries, least developed countries, or other currently marginalized communities in the international community, but instead calls for a more formal role for MNCs under the umbrella of a new global governance system.


The reference to ‘multidimensionality’ is not clear. Later references suggest that WEF is struggling to articulate a counterweight to concentrated economic and geopolitical power that would have a secure ethical foundation, but this position is never fully developed.


Readers' Guide Comment on “market… failures”


The diagnosis does not identify what are the ‘market failures’ that need to be addressed. In fact, the international business community has been in the forefront of blocking government and UN actions to address global market failures. For the last six decades, the International Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have strenuously opposed any effort to address inequalities resulting from international patterns of trade or investment, or to create an inter-governmentally legal and moral regime for the same issues.


Readers' Guide Comment on “public governance failures”


The diagnosis does not identify what are the ‘public governance failures’ that need to be addressed. Each reader may well have his or her own collection of public governance failures. WEF's recommendations and prescriptions would be far less scattershot if it presented an honest appraisal of how and why public governance on a global level did not keep up with economic globalization.


Related Ideas: Perceived limitations; WEF shifts debate; G20 as global leaders; gaining acceptance


The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

Yuliya Rashchupkina

Posted: 11-16-2012 13:54

I agree that omitting clarification of the constituents that should be included in the process of setting norms and generating collective actions as well as unexplained understanding of market and government failures makes the statement obscure. Also, questions arise on who should intervene to correct market failures (for instance, social costs imposed by MNCs on the environment) on the global arena and what set of actors should address public governance failures. If WEF's argument on augmented role of MNCs in the formal global governance is to be supported, market distortions will unlikely to be solved considering an opposition of the business communities to any kind of regulations. Greater involvement of MNCs in fixing public governance failures without engagement of the broader scope of actors might also have negative impact on global collective choices due to increased rent-seeking and shortened time horizons.

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