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Reflexive Governance for Research and Innovative Knowledge by Marc Maesschalck

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2The Origins of Governance Theory

The idea that it might be possible to evaluate the ideal governance potential of a system is not inherently idealistic; it depends solely on the rational stance taken with regard to the action processes implemented in a governance regime. A governance regime covers all of the ways and means used to produce collective action, bringing together the preferences of different stakeholders in a problem via a process of alignment. In a way, these may be seen as mechanisms for risk assessment, conflict resolution and the direction of participative procedures, for the purposes of decision making, the assignment of roles and the allocation of means in order to create and implement a plan.

Different approaches exist for the implementation of these collective action regimes, often classified as “top down” or “bottom up”. In the first case, the processes of coordinating actions are carried out by a hierarchical command unit, which carries out the main functions of direction and monitoring the intended objectives. In the second case, implementation of the process is dependent on secondary alliances, constructed progressively by actors on the ground, in order to increase collective power and broaden its field of interest, extending the effects of this cooperative process. These two types of approach may also be described using the terms “voluntarist” and “emergentist” [MAE 08]. The first type of mechanism uses a coordinated action to impose the framework for ...

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