9.1 Identifying Target Areas for Governance Review

Target areas for governance review are selected by the assessment criteria: acceptability, negotiability, inclusiveness, and prudence.

Patterns of power in this book are judged according to their acceptability to those who are subject to them.  The analysis criteria in Chapter 2 included a list of expectations and requirements from governance, which are inevitably subjective and contested (2.1).  The inevitability of disagreement was also highlighted there (2.2).

Four ways of measuring governance quality were then identified:

●  Acceptability to the population: aggregate satisfaction (2.3).

●  Negotiability that is respectful, balanced, inclusive and transparent (2.4).

●  Inclusiveness to ensure that governance benefits everyone, so that no-one is harmed or left behind (2.5).

●  Prudence is the duty of care, looking ahead, considering consequences (2.6).

When identifying target areas for governance review, it is logical to identify aspects which would improve its quality in these four ways.  This chapter examines some major issues where governance requires continual attention, or might be improved, drawing together the patterns that are particularly relevant from each dimension of power:

●  Negotiability is particularly important in reaching and maintaining a mutually-acceptable balance between society’s collective needs and the individual’s desire for freedom to flourish (9.2).

●  New technologies and globalisation have made it harder to maintains inclusiveness (9.3). These economic changes have resulted in movements of work and people.  Many people feel that they have been left behind as jobs disappear, and large-scale migration increases the challenges of pluralism.

●  Prudence is difficult to measure, even retrospectively, but it is possible to encourage leaders to be more prudent by holding them to account for lack of it (9.4). Prudence is essential in economic management, responding to new technologies, climate change, foreign policy, and numerous other aspects of governance.

●  Acceptability partly depends upon the above three measures, but also upon the other requirements of governance – of which one of the most important and widely agreed is to provide security. A better way of maintaining international security is needed (9.5).

The issue of refusal to negotiate is then examined (9.6), because it clearly affects the chance of reaching agreement on better governance.

The book then closes by re-addressing the suggested list of 12 governance requirements, to identify patterns of power that are relevant to improving and maintaining acceptability (9.7).


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/91.htm.