Jason J. McSparren 12.12.2019 (2)

Quincy, MA

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global governance policy that adds a layer of transparency-as-governance over the fiscal regime of natural resource producing states. [More on this initiative later]. The policy program was initially focused on revenue transfers within the sector but has since expanded to add transparency to additional aspects of the mineral value chain. The EITI is one example of a global governance initiative, and in this section the conceptualization of global governance comes into focus.  

Global governance emerged in the 1990s to reflect “the great changes that [had] been occurring both in the dynamics of relations in the world of states and in understandings of those dynamics” (Finkelstein 1995, 367). The idea of ‘global’ governance is the result of an internationalization of problems. Certain issues are simply too complex for any national government to manage replacing what was “previously thought of as issues for states to deal with within their own boundaries.” Issues of broad scale conflate with the “pursuit of democracy as an international goal” in the post-Cold War era.  … This “involves the cooperation of a range of international agencies and many nongovernmental actors.” To promote cooperation, global governance has been undergirded by democratic norms. Democracy as an organizing structure creates an “interdependence” that presses on and qualifies sovereignty, and the “interconnectedness of the decision processes among and within states” (Finkelstein 1995, 367).

Global governance scholarship takes its cues from the established fields of political science and international relations in that it centers on analyzing power relations among actors. This study was designed to explore the power dynamics as they occur within the MEITI because as  Weiss and Wilkinson (2014) argue, the aim of global governance scholarship is to better understand the structures of global authority and the nature of networks, both cooperating and competing actors within systems of local, national and regional structures. A global governance perspective claims five sources of authority, (1) institutional, (2) delegated, (3) expert, (4) principled, and (5) capacity (Typology derived from Barnett and Finnemore 2003 in Avant, Finnemore, and Sell 2010, 11).

Rosenau (1995) identifies the patterns of disaggregation of power as a further extension of the anarchic structures of politics. This evolution of anarchy may allow for greater flexibility and innovation and experimentation in the application of control mechanisms. Rosenau (1995) describes global governance in terms of its characteristics different from centralized command and control systems of rule asserting that “global governance knows no boundaries;”  that governance “as a control mechanism is a premise that interdependence involves not only flow of control, consequence and causation within systems, but that it also sustains flows across systems” involving both “micro-and macro-processes.”

The focus on authority is important. Realist and Rationalist international relations scholarship traditionally places states as the central authority in international politics. The source of authority has always been a core interest in political analysis, but from a global governance point of view, authority may be diffuse and could rest with non-state actors. Global governance analysis is not state-centric and recognizes that the “retreat of the state” (Strange 1996) in the age of neoliberal globalization has elevated multinational corporations in relation to states, positioning them as adversarial or cooperative actors in relation to states. Whether transnational rules arise because nonstate actors usurp authority from public actors or because states delegate, devolve, and share authority with private global governors makes a difference in assessing the significance of TNG (Dauvergne and Lister 2012, 2013). A second analytical frame revolves around explaining the rise of transnational rules by pointing to the material and ideational benefits that accrue to the actors that create them (Abbott and Snidal 2001; Busch 2011). Transnational rules arise, because they help to solve certain collective action problems faced by nonstate actors trying to transact across borders.

The actors that animate the policy process and support the governance structures are important variables of interest. One term for them is, ‘global governors’ (Avant, Finnemore, and Sell 2010), the  international actors, individuals such as politicians, business people, activists, or agencies, transnational corporations (TNCs), transnational nongovernmental organizations (TNGOs), governments and their agencies. These actors frame the issues either pro or con, design and implement, or oppose policy. “[G]overning must be understood politically: who governs, what they govern, how they govern, and whom they govern are contentious issues reflecting power, access, mobilization, and agency” (Avant, Finnemore, and Sell 2010, 370). As political dynamics unfold, “sources of change” can be identified; namely, “tensions or synergies among sources of authority within a government, cooperation or conflict among governors, and governing performance” (Avant, Finnemore, and Sell 2010, 3). This becomes necessary because “in an ever more interdependent world where what happens in one corner or at one level may have consequences for what occurs at every other corner and level, it seems a mistake to adhere to a narrow definition in which only formal institutions at the national and international levels are considered relevant” (Rosenau 1995, 13).

Global governance is a transition from international institutions characterized by cooperation among states to an expanded governance arena where cooperation is among states and non-state actors, both nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations. The curtailing of state authority has created gaps in governance that are being filled by actors from the public, private and civil society sectors. Such governance schemes may be multilayered and include competing as well as complimentary sources of authority. These diverse actors are incorporated into ‘action-centered networks’ (Carley and Christie 2000) organized with defined rules of membership engagement.

Global governance is partly a ramification of neoliberal policies that minimize state authority to regulate markets. It is also partly the ramification of issue truly becoming ‘global’, in the sense that they effect populations without recognition of borders. Issues such as climate change, transnational organized crime, in addition to the eight issues specified by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals:

  1. Eradicate poverty and hunger
  2. Universal primary education
  3. Gender Equality and empowerment of women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Global partnership for development  (United Nations 2017).

The EITI is a policy framework that is diffused internationally and implemented in individual nation-states. This is an example of the club theory approach to voluntary programs which builds on long-standing political economy traditions that address the theoretical bases of collective action. Collective action research poses fundamental questions about social organization inquiring as to why individuals do or do not work together to pursue common objectives and to what consequences (Potoski and Prakash 2009).

Transparency initiatives are examples of the disaggregation of power, or at least a deliberate attempt at this. In recognizing the weaknesses that some governments display in relation to the MNCs, transparency initiatives are attempting to include and connect government with civil society so that the two entities may work together for the benefit of the country. Similarly, the initiatives are attempting to create space for civil society to participate in governance where democratic institutions may be weak. To this point, governments have largely failed to properly manage and utilize resource-derived rents to develop social and human capital. If civil society is able to legitimize its authority as a functioning member of the governance mechanism, then it may be able to influence agenda-setting and decision-making related to issues of national importance, like the development agenda.


Abbott, Kenneth W., and Duncan Snidal. 2001. “International ‘standards’ and International Governance.” Journal of European Public Policy 8 (3): 345–70.

Avant, Deborah D., Martha Finnemore, and Susan K. Sell, eds. 2010. Who Governs the Globe? New York: Cambridge University Press.

Barnett, Michael N., and Martha Finnemore. 2003. “The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations.” International Organization 53 (04): 699–732.

Busch, Lawrence. 2011. “The Private Governance of Food: Equitable Exchange or Bizarre Bazaar?” Agriculture and Human Values 28 (3): 345–52.

Carley, Michael, and Ian Christie. 2000. Managing Sustainable Development. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Dauvergne, Peter, and Jane Lister. 2012. “Big Brand Sustainability: Governance Prospects and Environmental Limits.” Global Environmental Change 22 (1): 36–45.

———. 2013. Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sutainability. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Finkelstein, Lawrence S. 1995. “What Is Global Governance?” Global Governance 1 (3): 367–72.

Potoski, Matthew, and Aseem Prakash. 2009. Voluntary Programs: Club Theory Perspective. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Rosenau, James N. 1995. “Governance in the Twenty-First Century.” Global Governance 1 (1): 13–43.

Strange, Susan. 1996. The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

United Nations. 2017. “News on Millennium Development Goals.” We Can End Poverty. 2017.

Weiss, Thomas G., and Rorden Wilkinson. 2014. “Rethinking Global Governance? Complexity, Authority, Power, Change.” International Studies Quarterly 58: 207–15.

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