Non-State Actors and Global Informal Governance - The Case of ICANN
INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK ON INFORMAL GOVERNANCE, Thomas Christiansen, Christine Neuhold, eds., Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 7, 2010
This chapter will appear as part of the forthcoming INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK ON INFORMAL GOVERNANCE (Thomas Christiansen & Christine Neuhold, eds.). It examines the history of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. ICANN is an unusual beast. When it came into existence, it faced legitimacy challenges: some were unconvinced that it was an appropriate wielder of the power it claimed, that they had any obligation to cooperate in its governance functions, or that they should comply with its pronouncements. I argue in this chapter that ICANN’s key move in establishing its legitimacy was its expansion and bureaucratization. ICANN initially positioned itself as an informal technical coordination body in the tradition of the Internet Engineering Task Force: today, it has shifted to adopt the appearance, processes and culture of a modern large bureaucracy. In seeking to be accepted by business enterprises and governments, it structured itself so that it looks like a business enterprise or government. It negotiated successfully with influential players as to the goals it should pursue, and reframed its structure and culture so as to conform to their images of what a successful and legitimate organization ought to look like.
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