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Research Objectives

During its third funding period the SFB 700 focuses on three research objectives that each form the focal point of numerous subprojects:

1. Conditions of success for effective and legitimate governance

The SFB 700 persues the aim of setting up an empirically founded theory. Based on our preceding research we have identified four factors that are key to success or failure of governance in areas of limited statehood:

The institutionalization of a governance-constellation fosters predictability and compliance among participating actors (e.g. the accuracy and bindingness of rules or the monitoring of processes). It’s ability of institutionalized learning enhances flexible adaptation to local contexts and changing environments. A complementary relationship between formal and informal institutions increases the effectiveness of governance, while an inconsistency of formal rules and informal practices often contributes significantly to the breakdown of governance. Finally, embedding governance into meta-governance institutions ( i.e. institutions of coordinating different actors) can prevent norm collisions as well as redundancies.

In our areas of investigation, state bodies are neither able to effectively enforce political decisions nor to assert a monopoly on the use of force. Actors of governance have to cope with routine abuses of office in local government agencies. Nevertheless, successful governance regularly depends on particular state functions, for example, infrastructure services or the management of non-state governance. Functional equivalents to the state's “shadow of hierarchy” are the hierarchical control by external actors; the looming absence of political order (which motivates non-state actors to produce collective goods by themselves); as well as anticipated boosts to non-state actors’ reputation.

People affected by governance decisively adjust their actions according to whether or not they approve of a governing actor and whether they consider its governance legitimate. Linked hereto are processes of appropriation, resistance and translation, which in turn substantially affect the effectiveness of governance. In the end, legitimacy and effectiveness form either a virtuous or a vicious cycle, whose inherent mechanisms we aim to investigate (see below).

Social trust is an essential prerequisite for actors to effectively solve dilemmas of collective action. Mutual trust enables actors to demand governance services or to deliver them on their own, and to monitor those responsible. However, collective capacity to act can also reinforce resistance. We investigate how personalized trust affects governance and how generalized trust beyond the local community can be generated.

2. Sources of empirical legitimacy of governance

The preceding research of the SFB 700 suggests a particular importance of empirical legitimacy. We thus aim to clarify how empirical legitimacy arises as a presumable key condition of effective governance. Due to which normative reasons do the persons affected endorse governance? In doing so, we focus on the following sources of legitimacy:

Concerned parties’ participation in political decisions is an important source of legitimacy and contributes to procedural legitimacy (input und throughput legitimacy). For the participatory mechanism to function persons affected must be able to act (which in turn requires social trust; see above). In areas of limited statehood, there exist locally varying forms of participation aside from voting and elections, such as consensual decision-making or ad hoc and topic-based appointment of representatives towards community outsiders. The historical perspective, taken in some sub-projects of the SFB 700, demonstrates the importance of reflecting on differing ideas of legitimacy. Governance constellations are to be evaluated according to appropriate context-specific criteria of participation and procedure.

The expected or actual effectiveness of governance as perceived by the concerned parties strengthens or weakens the legitimacy of a governance-constellation (output legitimacy). As legitimacy, in turn, constitutes a condition for success of effective governance, the relationship is reciprocal.

The readiness to comply and authority are necessary conditions of effective governance. They can be generated through different means, e.g. through formal public office. In areas of limited statehood, empirical legitimacy usually derives from specific properties that are attributed to governing actors. We differentiate legitimacy by (specialized) knowledge (e.g. experts), by moral or religious competence (e.g. NGOs as norm-entrepreneurs) or by ethnic, identity-based ascription (e.g. chiefs).

External governance-transfersare more likely to be recognized when the promoted norms and values build upon local concepts and practices. We are interested in the conditions under which adaptation of governance-services to the desired context (through localization and transmission) contributes to the legitimacy of governance.

3. Consequences of new forms of governance

Our theoretical aim is to determine not only conditions for the effectiveness of governance in areas of limited statehood but also its empirical and normative consequences. This entails three issues of concern:

The coordination of various actors and the negotiation of different normative claims are specific challenges of governance under the circumstances of limited statehood. Institutions of the international system that have taken on this task of meta-governance should be viewed critically, especially, as to their state-bias. It is crucial to point out possibilities of dealing with phenomena of states that cannot enforce their rules, fluid boundaries, and non-state actors of governance or of violence.

Governance of non-state actors in areas of limited statehood runs the risk of further undermining the (residual) statehood. The analysis will show under which conditions governance can promote the development of state capacities. Possibly, there are new forms of statehood in which the state acts primarily as a manager of non-state governance, or entirely different forms that reproduce themselves through systematic corruption.

Given our empirical focus on governance in areas of limited statehood, matters of justice arise: matters of the inclusiveness of services; the determination of subsidiary parties responsible; the institutionalized guarantee of access to vital goods; or the assessment of normatively ambiguous actors of governance. Besides this, the question as to the deserved recognition and bindingness of the emerging order arises. As to meta-governance, it must be considered normatively to what extent non-state actors can be obliged to grant collective goods. Finally, we will deduce policy recommendations for specific national and international organisations from our empirical and normative findings. A particular, institutionalized form of this exchange exists with the German Federal Foreign Office (cf. Tresearch Project T3).