“The Governance Paradigm” Defined

"The governance paradigm is an analytical framework that begins with the premise that the functions and needs of society in its ordering and collective affairs are met by a diffuse set of dynamics between an array of social actors and institutions.  That is, it is premised on a transformed view of how society is governed in practice.  The governance paradigm thus captures the ways in which, particularly in developing areas of the world, the responsibility for the delivery of public services such as basic education, healthcare, clean drinking water, waste management, provision of credit, conservation practices and so forth – that is, the conventional purview of government – is dispersed across governmental, non-governmental and for-profit market sectors.  This would include not only institutions of the state apparatus, but also religious institutions, kinship networks, commercial and other civic sector associations.  The governance of society is thus larger than government itself.

In the governance paradigm, then, “governance” refers not only to the technical and normative meaning of “good governance,” but also to the broader and more empirical questions of governance as the arrangements of processes, organizations and networks that manage and impact the delivery of specific functions and services to communities.  The framework of governance is thus an analytical project that examines the ways in which resources are allocated, how competing local needs are managed, and how public authority is negotiated.  The governance paradigm asks:  how are government’s public purposes being achieved in practice?  What are the most cost-effective responses to the differentiated needs of communities?  What might be alternative mechanisms for their effective and efficient delivery?"

From Tashi Rabgey, Governance Concept Paper (2011)