Thomas Risse, ed. Governance without a State? Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. viii + 297 pp. $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-15120-7.
Reviewed by Bridget Coggins (Dartmouth College)
Published on H-Diplo (July, 2012)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
Remedying Overstated Assumptions about Governance in the Developing World
Today, effective governance is not the sole provenance of the state. Indeed, it may never have been. From governments unable to provide a stable macroeconomic environment to those that fail to provide the most rudimentary human security to those whose healthcare systems are supplemented by foreign nongovernmental organizations during natural disasters, most people live in areas of "limited statehood" where the state's domestic sovereignty is circumscribed in some way (pp. 4-5). In Governance without a State? editor Thomas Risse and his collaborators explore the various ways in which those other than (though sometimes in conjunction with) the state provide governance under these conditions. Though scholars and policymakers have long recognized that the model of the ideal nation-state is rarely realized in practice, this is one of the first scholarly attempts to synthesize the various actors, institutions, and strategies that provide governance where formal governmental authorities cannot, or simply do not, do so. On the whole, the collection is thoughtful and theoretically intriguing if perhaps a bit lacking in cohesion. A quote by Stephen Krasner on the book jacket accurately touts it as "an agenda-setting study."
Governance without a State? will be read principally by scholars eager to adjust their theories to the modal state, rather than continuing to rely on the elusive ideal type. Its concentration on the provision of governance, or "institutionalized modes of social coordination to produce and implement collectively binding rules, or to provide collective goods" rather than on the state itself, is truly innovative (p. 9). Further, the book is interdisciplinary, with scholars examining the issue from the perspectives of politics, history, and law, and it includes wholly theoretical works as well as original empirical research. Additionally, the volume raises important questions for those currently engaged in policy, specifically those responsible for the formulation and practice of contemporary intervention and state building. Though it may have trouble finding an audience in the policy community, some contributions, in particular Ulrich Schneckener's, provide useful frameworks that give present-day state builders meaningful insights into the long-term consequences of their preferred "philosophy" of state building.
In the review that follows, I will first provide a brief synopsis of the book's overarching theme and short summaries of its chapters. Next, I will offer questions and recommendations for further work in this vein. The volume proceeds from the empirical observation that the ideal state--strong effective control and authority, ample public goods provision, and high economic development--is not the norm in most parts of the world. The contributors argue that governance, however, remains a useful concept for understanding the variety of actors and hybrid, multilevel institutions active in politics and public goods provision in these areas of limited statehood. Therefore, the authors ask, "how is effective, legitimate governance possible under these conditions; how can security and other public goods be provided" (p. 2)?
The authors conceptualize statehood as control and authority consistent with Max Weber's ubiquitous definition rather than the more expansive understandings incorporating "good" governance that are common in the failed and fragile state literature (p. 4). Centrally, areas of limited statehood are those in which the state's domestic sovereignty is limited while its external sovereignty or international legitimacy remains intact. They identify four, sometimes concurrent, limits: territorial, sectoral, social, and temporal, and urge us to think in terms of degrees of statehood instead of dichotomies.
The volume is organized into three major sections. The first details historical and legal instances of limited statehood. In "Governance and Colonial Rule," Sebastian Conrad and Marion Stange detail deviations from the "public-private dichotomy" regarding governance during colonialism and continuing, via complex historical trajectories, on into postcolonial Africa. Unlike the sovereign ideal type, colonial governance was often provided by "nonofficial" actors contracted or co-opted by an "official" imperial power that did not exercise much effective authority at all. Furthermore, these public-private partnerships had longstanding effects on governance patterns in these countries postindependence. Next, Gunnar Folke Schupert examines "rule making" by non-state actors divorced from the more conventional "law making" of the state in "Law without a State: A 'New Interplay' between State and Non-State Actors in Governance by Rule Making." This chapter touches on the interactions between state and non-state rules and sets an agenda for studying law without the state in areas of limited statehood.
The second major section examines the non-state actors, both substate and transnational, that supplement or substitute for official state functions. In "New Modes of Security: The Violent Making and Unmaking of Governance in War-Torn Areas of Limited Statehood," Sven Chojnacki and Zeljko Branovic show that, even under conditions of violence, actors may arrive at binding decisions and provide security for defined groups or territories. The authors argue that the market for security in areas of limited statehood, though, is atypical because an increase in competition between security providers leads to greater insecurity--or lower market performance. Andrea Liese and Marianne Beisheim contribute an empirical research chapter, somewhat befuddling in its empirics, on public-private partnerships' (PPPs) effectiveness. They find that hybrid organizations' provision of public goods depends meaningfully on the degree of institutionalization and process management. In the following chapter, Tanja A. Börzel, Adrienne Hériter, Nicole Kranz, and Christian Thauer ask why corporations sometimes push for increased regulation in areas of limited statehood. Contrary to most expectations, it is sometimes advantageous for companies to push for additional regulations rather than accept the status quo or lobby for decreased oversight. Using empirical evidence regarding environmental self-regulation in the food, retail, and automotive industries, the authors identify four conditions that make the push for increased regulation more likely: where a high-quality brand name would benefit from regulatory provisions, when the imposition of regulatory standards on foreign competitors provides a relative advantage, if they are under pressure from damaging public relations campaigns surrounding low regulatory standards, and when they are under pressure to increase standards in their country of origin. Last, in "Governance in Sovereign Debt Crises: Analyzing Creditor-Debtor Interactions," Henrik Enderlein, Laura von Daniels, and Christoph Trebesch examine a sector-specific case of limited statehood where states fail to provide macroeconomic stability because they suffer from sovereign debt crises.
Finally, the third section evaluates how external actors' contributions to stability and good governance have fared in areas of limited statehood. Bernd Ladwig and Beate Rudof lead off with "International Legal and Moral Standards of Good Governance in Fragile States," wherein they develop normative standards for non-state and transnational actors operating in areas of limited statehood. They argue that morality and law dictate that good governance must be sought by those actors providing governance in fragile states, including human rights, the rule of law, public participation in governance, and governance actor responsiveness. Next, in "State Building or New Models of Governance? The Effects of International Involvement in Areas of Limited Statehood," Schneckener argues, contrary to the thrust of much of the international relations literature regarding state building, that in practice, state building does not actually build states. Instead, intervention introduces alternative governance that transforms the experience of statehood in many parts of the developing world. By first categorizing the different approaches to or theories of state building (liberalization first, security first, institutionalization first, and civil society first), Schneckener examines the systematic consequences of each for governance in areas of limited statehood and concludes that in most cases, external involvement is enduring and open-ended. Closing the volume is Lars Brozus. In his chapter, he attempts to arrive at a synthesis of sorts regarding the governance concept and its potential utility to inform ongoing scholarly and policy debates. Brozus concludes that state building often has undesirable consequences and, therefore, recommends that outsiders limit intervention and focus on "governance shaping" in conjunction with those already actively providing public goods within the area of limited statehood instead.
Rather than attempt to engage in a meaningful dialogue with each of the authors (which, given the space constraints, would be impossible anyway), in my comments, I would like to address some of the broader issues with which the book grapples. First, the contributors ask how effective, legitimate governance can be achieved in states with limited sovereignty, but do not ask "whether" or "under what conditions it can be" or "how likely it is." Answers to these questions are of central importance. Only in a few cases, notably chapter 6, do the individual authors touch on these issues. Given that this is a relatively new field, or at least a new approach within an existing field, the answers are necessarily preliminary. Still, it would have been interesting to hear whether the governance successes detailed in the volume are replicable or idiosyncratic. It would also have been useful to have some normative discussion about whether governance in areas of limited statehood is equally desirable to that according to the Western, developed, ideal type. Does this volume suggest that the international community ought to accept something "less than" for the developing world? Or is it just "different"?
One of the volume's most provocative arguments is that the Western, developed, nation-state ideal may be ill suited to up to two-thirds of the world's existing states. But this begs the question, is it the standard or the existing states that ought to change? So far, the dominant response from development and post-conflict state-building communities has been the latter. So what does the former, a reformation of the standard, look like? Does a reorientation toward governance imply an ad hoc approach based on particular actors and modes of governance in each limited state? How would the authors respond to arguments like those put forward by Jeffery Herbst that, in some cases in Africa, states should be abandoned entirely in favor of city-states or more traditional social organizations?
Practically speaking, how much would it strain the existing organization of the international system to accommodate or embrace these alternate governance regimes? At least part of the rationale behind state building and development according to the Western, developed world ideal is that international law and international institutions have been created with this type of actor at their base. States are the foundational units on which the international order is built. Given the overwhelming institutional momentum in its favor, what might be the larger consequences of promoting hybrid and alternative governance?
Finally, some cohesion is lacking among the chapters. Although Risse does an excellent job of introducing the subject matter and of previewing the content of the book, it would have been helpful to have a concluding chapter distilling the findings and recommendations from the individual contributors and permitting a discussion among them about the implications of their work. For example, how does the Brozus recommendation for limited intervention square with Liese and Besheim's finding that higher institutionalization makes PPPs more successful? Furthermore, a dialogue of this sort might also have permitted a discussion of some of the queries that I made above.
On the whole, this is an intriguing first foray into a research area that will undoubtedly bear fruit. The questions that I have raised herein come from a genuine interest in the potential answers and from my hope to provoke additional discussion on the role of non-state actors in governance and statehood in the developing world. The authors in this volume have identified an obvious problem in the scholarly and policy communities' approach to limited statehood. The next step is synthesis.
: Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood,
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Bridget Coggins. Review of Risse, Thomas, ed., Governance without a State? Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood.
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