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Reflexive Governance for Global Public Goods$

Eric Brousseau, Tom Dedeurwaerdere, and Bernd Siebenhüner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262017244

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262017244.001.0001

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(p.241) V Knowledge Generation on Global Issues

(p.241) V Knowledge Generation on Global Issues

Reflexive Governance for Global Public Goods
The MIT Press

One of the cross-cutting issues in the analysis of new governance tools in this book is the generation of knowledge. Knowledge of global public goods influences individual and social preferences and informs the democratic deliberation processes discussed in the previous parts of the book. However, lack of knowledge on solutions and on collective preferences is a serious practical challenge in any problem of GPG provision.

The importance of knowledge generation is explicitly addressed in the chapters in this part of the book. They show that institutional mechanisms for global governance should be analyzed from the perspective of knowledge generation and not only from the perspective of effectiveness and legitimacy. The analysis in the chapter by Brousseau, Dedeurwaerdere, and Siebenhüner shows that there are clearly mechanisms that do not generate adequate knowledge, even when they are based on democratic deliberation. There are trade-offs between mechanisms that are better at knowledge generation, and those that are better at effectiveness or democratic legitimacy. In particular, this chapter shows that the inclusiveness of the learning process has a positive impact on the generation of knowledge about implementation. This has already been highlighted in Part IV on multi-stakeholder coordination, but here knowledge generation in various communities is explored from a comparative perspective. Inclusiveness may lead to better knowledge, but this has to be combined with mechanisms that ensure credibility and the widespread availability of the knowledge (e.g., in science communities and the umbrella organizations of nongovernmental organizations). This point is well taken in the chapter by Lawrence and Molteno, who show that knowledge generation processes are not exempt from standard conflicts of interest between various organizations, competition for leadership, and power issues in national bureaucracies.

(p.242) Finally, the contribution by Grothmann and Siebenhüner points out that specific competencies are needed to manage the governance mechanisms that are specifically oriented to the generation of knowledge. Building upon the work of an interdisciplinary OECD project, their chapter shows the importance of the competency for social interaction in heterogeneous groups, the competency for deliberation and the ability to learn, and that for the ability to revise previous thoughts, decisions and practices. Taken together, these competencies are shown to be important micro-level fundamentals for reflexive governance processes.

The main challenge which is highlighted in this part of the book is that, in order to develop effective and legitimate methods of governance, there is a need for further improvement in the current means of knowledge generation on both the various GPGs and the preferences of the various communities involved. This challenge also reflects the fact, emphasized throughout this book, that the provision of global public goods is basically a question of governance. This is because the public nature of the goods has to be collectively defined in the process of clarifying the issues at hand, and in the elaboration of solutions.