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A Farazmand
A Farazmand

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Building Partnerships for Governance

What follows is adapted from a paper delivered by Ali Farazmand, Professor of Public Administration of Florida Atlantic University, Fl, USA.

National governance refers to the process of managing - through the involvement of broad-based stakeholders - the economic, political, and social affairs of a country and of using its natural, fi nancial, and human resources in the interests of all the people. Good governance adheres to the principles of participation, fairness, equity, effi ciency, transparency and accountability.

The concept of governance, therefore, is broader than the traditional concepts of government and governing characterized by unilateral, monopolistic exercise of authority by the governing elites within a specifi c national boundary. The emerging interpretation of governance emphasizes an increasing role for citizens, including women, youths and other minority groups, based on, for example, ethnicity, religion and national origin. This emerging defi nition of governance specifi cally involves active participation of citizens as community members, as organizations and as individuals. The former hierarchical concept of the "rulers and the ruled" denied a role for most stakeholders, relegating them to being recipients of policies and programmes.

Likewise, it is fi tting to view "governance" in a global perspective because societies throughout the world are experimenting with new governance methods and widening the arena for participation of citizens and organizations. Current trends of globalization and global interdependence, such as environmental degradation, impact every nation state, their governments and all people. Today, we are truly inter-related. One can speak of "global governance", including all the traditional mechanisms of international relations and the emerging activities within international relationships between non-governmental organizations related to markets and networks.

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Mega-trends such as globalization, urbanization, global environmental changes and sweeping privatization are beyond the capacity of any national government to handle. These trends require a wide range of partnerships at global, national and local levels. To these global issues must be added technological innovations, such as the Internet and computer applications that make the global exchange of information instantaneously possible and give citizens and institutions the opportunity for sharing information, values and experiences in a borderless society. The traditional models of governing and governments have failed to address many problems of the economy and the environment. Today, the ability of these traditional models to control the information fl ow and the people who use it is limited, while the opportunity for citizens to form alliances and movements at regional and global levels is almost unlimited. It is in this global context that the new concept of governance becomes most relevant.

As a comprehensive and inclusive concept, good governance is an allencompassing, highly participatory, dynamic and engaging process. It seeks solutions to problems through dialogue and communicative action, engagement through the interactions of citizens and non governmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental institutions. Partnership, therefore, has become the central requirement of good governance.

Partnership implies joint and voluntary endeavors toward a common purpose. In the context of good governance, partnership is essential and requires genuine participation of the stakeholders. The leading role of the state is very important for encouraging and building meaningful partnerships among various sectors of society at all levels, because many countries still lack strong, independent private-sector and civic organizations. The essence of effective partnership, therefore, is sharing power, responsibility and achievement. This is a noble idea aspired to by many civilizations. It is also a responsibility of the state to provide the enabling environment and to empower citizens to play an effective partnership role in the process of governance.

Partnerships involve the pooling and exchange of know-how information and experience between and among partners. Sharing experiences is especially essential because many institutions, governmental or non-governmental, are conducting cutting-edge experiences unknown to other institutions.

The concept of partnershipbased, participatory governance recognizes that expertise, initiative, responsibility and accountability are widely shared throughout the society. Rather than being solely within the realm of central government, a society with a strong, good governance framework as well as processes, includes and benefi ts from well-developed, capacitated, institutionalized and active stakeholders such as local governments, NGOs, citizens and private sector organizations.

Furthermore, the concept of partnership-based governance implies a learning environment in which experiences worldwide are shared and even linked to stimulate responsiveness, openness, transparency and accountability. It can also lead to innovation, competence, effi ciency and effectiveness.

Why Build Partnerships Now?
A Persian proverb explains why partnership is important: "A single hand does not make a sound alone, but when two hands clap together they make sounds." This is also true of any culture.

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Partnerships and collaborations, are keys to the survival of social institutions. Partnerships are keys to governance for the following major reasons:

  1. Partnerships promote creativity, innovation, synergy, stronger ability to tackle big problems and participation and responsibility.

  2. Partnerships are increasingly important because interdependence connects peoples, nation-states, cultures, governments, businesses and non-governmental civil organizations. Moreover the global exchange of information has become very easy.

    Internet and other computer applications have enabled citizens around the world to communicate and share information of mutual interests and concern, almost anywhere on the planet. Partnerships among peoples, and civil as well as governmental organizations across the world, are facilitated by information technology.

  3. Globalization and global issues have created a formidable necessity in building global partnerships for all levels and stakeholders of governance. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, a new world order has emerged, with marketization, economic globalization and political pluralism. As a consequence, many nation-states have sought strategic alliances for protection and development. These alliances have been active in varying degrees at global, regional and sub-regional levels.

    By joining the global economy, governments are increasing economic opportunities, but at the same time exposing their nation-based companies to pure competition.

    Along with globalization strategies, governments need to develop social safety nets to protect their most vulnerable citizens from the negative consequences of globalization.

  4. Global problems such as environmental deterioration, wars, ethnic confl icts, poverty and health crises, and migration and refugee problems, are beyond any government's capacity to solve. They require both formal and informal global partnerships.

  5. Learning organizations are adapting to the rapid changes of their environments by acquiring information about their surrounding environments. Governments and citizens need to do the same by joining in partnership systems for effective governance.

    Learning about best practices for good governance is an important process in stimulating the development of effective governance. People can learn from conferences, and help build order through adaptation by learning and self-regulating processes.

  6. Partnerships contribute to involvement, the quality of good governance and service delivery, administration, political support and stability among governments, citizens, private sectors and NGOs.

  7. Partnerships require genuine participation, which contributes to democratic, good governance and sustainable development for social well-being.

  8. The fi nancial-economic motives for partnership concern, for example, the limited fi nancial capacity of governments for investments, which make the prospects of private sector cofi nancing very important. With the governments running budget defi cits, the private sector can step in as a co-fi nancier in capital projects with long- and short-term returns.

    This kind of partnership requires, and creates, signifi cant mutual interdependence among the partners.

  9. The strategic-managerial motives for partnership concerns the, central issues of effi ciency through the application of business-like measures of cost effectiveness, cost-control and other criteria used in the private sector. Efficiency is an important criterion for effective governance, but it is not the overriding one; effectiveness is equally important.

Illustration Therefore, the central motive of effectiveness becomes strategically important to government in forming partnerships with various sectors of society, including private sector institutions, NGOs and other civic organizations. The strategic motives of effectiveness drive governments to draw on certain innovations, technology, expertise and skills found in non-governmental and private sector organizations for an extended period.

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