New Guardrails for the Information Society

Quello Center Working Paper No. 05-21

36 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Johannes M. Bauer

Johannes M. Bauer

Michigan State University-Department of Media and Information

Date Written: September 12, 2021


Deep uncertainty and increasing interdependence among players change how the information society can be governed. To remain effective, governance must better reflect these conditions. Systems approaches and adaptive forms of governance are needed to augment established policy models. Moreover, a reassessment of the normative principles upon which information society policies are based is called for. The establishment of appropriate boundary conditions (“guardrails”) for the activities of decentralized players is an important instrument to align the tremendous potential of information and communication technologies with visions of a good society. Because of the heterogeneity of global historical, economic, political, and cultural conditions, the emergence of a polycentric organization of information society governance is likely. However, differentiation and institutional variety must be considered desirable features rather than problems, because they can contribute to policy experimentation, learning, and the improvement of governance.

Keywords: Information society, big tech, Facebook, Google, Amazon, interdependence, deep uncertainty, normative foundations, ethics, adaptive regulation, governance

JEL Classification: L51, L86, L96, O38

Suggested Citation

Bauer, Johannes M., New Guardrails for the Information Society (September 12, 2021). Quello Center Working Paper No. 05-21,, Available at SSRN: or

Johannes M. Bauer (Contact Author)

Michigan State University-Department of Media and Information ( email )

409 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States
517-355-8372 (Phone)
517-355-1292 (Fax)


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