The Fragmentation of Global Governance Architectures: A Framework for Analysis

Posted: 13 Feb 2010

See all articles by Frank Biermann

Frank Biermann

VU University Amsterdam - Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)

Philipp Pattberg

VU University Amsterdam

Harro van Asselt

Stockholm Environment Institute; University of Eastern Finland

Fariborz Zelli

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Date Written: February 12, 2010

Abstract

Most research on global governance has focused either on theoretical accounts of the overall phenomenon or on empirical studies of distinct institutions that serve to solve particular governance challenges. In this article we analyze instead "governance architectures," defined as the overarching system of public and private institutions, principles, norms, regulations, decision-making procedures and organizations that are valid or active in a given issue area of world politics. We focus on one aspect that is turning into a major source of concern for scholars and policy-makers alike: the "fragmentation" of governance architectures in important policy domains. The article offers a typology of different degrees of fragmentation, which we describe as synergistic, cooperative, and conflictive fragmentation. We then systematically assess alternative hypotheses over the relative advantages and disadvantages of different degrees of fragmentation. We argue that moderate degrees of fragmentation may entail both significant costs and benefits, while higher degrees of fragmentation are likely to decrease the overall performance of a governance architecture. The article concludes with policy options on how high degrees of fragmentation could be reduced. Fragmentation is prevalent in particular in the current governance of climate change, which we have hence chosen as illustration for our discussion.

Keywords: global governance, climate change, institutions, post-Kyoto

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Biermann, Frank and Pattberg, Philipp and van Asselt, Harro and Zelli, Fariborz, The Fragmentation of Global Governance Architectures: A Framework for Analysis (February 12, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1551857

Frank Biermann

VU University Amsterdam - Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) ( email )

De Boelelaan 1115
Amsterdam, 1081 HV
Netherlands

Philipp Pattberg (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Harro Van Asselt

Stockholm Environment Institute ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

University of Eastern Finland ( email )

PO Box 111
Joensuu, 80100
Finland

Fariborz Zelli

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research ( email )

Norwich, Norfolk
United Kingdom

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