Nodal Governance

Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Vol. 30, 2005

44 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2005  

Scott Burris

Center for Public Health Law Research, Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Peter Drahos

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS); Queen Mary University of London, School of Law; School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Clifford Shearing

Griffith Institute of Criminology; University of Cape Town (UCT); University of Montreal, School of Criminology; RegNet School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet); University of New South Wales; Durban University of Technology, Urban Futures Centre

Abstract

The article argues that we live in a world in which nodal forms of governance are commonplace. Nodal governance is an elaboration of contemporary network theory explaining how a variety of actors operating within social systems interact along networks to govern the systems they inhabit. We draw upon Hayek to argue that any collectivity can be seen as an outcome-generating system whose workings are generally too complex to be fully understood. Governance in such systems is constituted in nodes that mobilize the knowledge and capacity of members to manage the course of events. Nodes have four essential characteristics: mentalities, technologies, resources, and institutions. Nodes govern in a wide variety of ways, including by mobilizing resources, deploying technologies, using rules or laws, and directly governing people within the system. Two case studies illustrate how nodal governance operates and explores its regulatory possibilities. The development of the TRIPS agreement on intellectual property is one story of nodal governance that blurs the line between public and private spheres and has global consequences. It also demonstrates why nodal governance is neither necessarily democratic nor a method that secures more goods than bads for the population as a whole. The Zwelethemba Model of Local Capacity Governance, a security project in poor South African townships, demonstrates that the creation of governing nodes can be a means of promoting democracy and self-efficacy within collectives. It shows that new nodes can change relationships among existing nodes and even change the operation of formal government structures. In sum, nodal governance has potentialities for the weak and the strong, but the possibilities that can be realized depends on how nodal governance is constituted.

Keywords: Governance, democracy

Suggested Citation

Burris, Scott and Drahos, Peter and Shearing, Clifford, Nodal Governance. Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Vol. 30, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=760928

Scott C. Burris (Contact Author)

Center for Public Health Law Research, Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-6576 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.phlr.org

Peter Drahos

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

67-69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Clifford D Shearing

Griffith Institute of Criminology ( email )

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111
Australia

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, 7701
South Africa

University of Montreal, School of Criminology ( email )

C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
Canada

RegNet School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

University of New South Wales ( email )

Sydney
Australia

Durban University of Technology, Urban Futures Centre ( email )

Durban
South Africa

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