In order to analyze governance as a technology I believe it will be meaningful if first we gain an understanding of the origin of the word and some definitions of it from familiar international institutions. The origin of the word “governance” stems from the Greek verb κυβερνάω [kubernáo] which means to steer and its original use was made in a metaphorical sense by Plato.(20) From there the word passed on to Latin and subsequently many more linguistic technologies thereafter.
There are many definitions of “governance” but for the sake of analysis I am going to provide a list of definitions without explicitly identifying its place of origin. I am presenting the material in this fashion in order to make the focus on the actual definitions without any potential for bias related to its origin to be made. If you are interested in matching the definition to the specific provider of it, you may do so at your pleasure and find the answer on the references page. The definitions for governance are:
- The Manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.(21)
- The Traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised.(22)
- The use of institutions, structures of authority and even collaboration to allocate resources and coordinate control activity in society or the economy.(23)
Governance has been defined as the rules of the political system to solve conflicts between actors and adopt decision (legality). It has also been used to describe the “proper functioning of institutions and their acceptance by the public” (legitimacy). And it has been used to invoke the efficacy of government and the achievement of consensus by democratic means (participation).(24)
Looking at these definitions we see many similarities, but in viewing them through the lens of Brian Arthur’s framework for analyzing a technology we see that all of them entail means for serving a human purpose. This clears the first requirement of Arthur’s definition. We can also see they all involve an assemblage of practices and components (both devices and methods) either explicitly or implicitly. This clears the second requirement of Arthur’s definition. To clear the last definition, we need to look a little deeper because each culture has its own nature or rules.
What’s interesting in these definitions is that only one of the definitions explicitly states the importance of the rule of law. The other three definitions appear to be engineered in a manner where the rule of law is already implied as being paramount because they use words such as “Manner”, “Traditions”, and “Structures of Authority”. No different than the varying number of definitions of governance, to the best of my knowledge no two countries have the exact same rules of law nor the same interpretations of those rules. This clears the final hurdle in Arthur’s framework for making the claim that governance is a technology. Thus we run into another question of how do rules of law manifest themselves?
Because the United States of America is generally considered to be one of the most dynamic democracies and also probably one of the most researched, lets take a look at the process in which the U.S. Constitution was created by asking the question: How did the United States Constitution, Become the United States Constitution?