Government and Governance

Researching shifts in political control and power Focal Area "Government and Governance"

In the centre of this focal research area are processes of transformation with respect to modes of political control, but also the exercising of influence in the intrastate and interstate domains.

Binding decisions in the formal framework of hierarchical "government" structures, with governments and administrations as the primary actors, are decreasing in significance in almost all societies and - with varying speeds and in various forms according to the system context, level of operation and political field - are being replaced or at least supplemented by "governance": complex processes of agreement, coordination and negotiation in pluricentric network structures in which private actors participate alongside the state, and which frequently comprise several political levels of operation - from local, via regional and national, all the way to global.

It is investigated how on various levels and in different fields of politics the challenges can be managed which result from this process relating to the problem-solving capacity and efficiency, but also the transparency of action and the responsibility of political actors and institutions. Here it is a question of institutional forms of conflict resolution as central mechanisms to regulate peaceful coexistence in societies. Particular attention is paid to fragile states: in contrast to consolidated states, they are characterised by the fact that the management of conflicts within them often takes violent forms.

Conflicts acted out by means of violence can cause development processes to fail, can be coupled with the transformation of political identities, and can lead to the fragmentation of states as well as the dissolution of whole societies. Transnational violent conflicts, above all, are increasingly shaping international politics, and represent a new challenge for states, governments and international organisations. In this research field the issue is therefore raised how peaceful forms of conflict resolution can be attained, and how actors and strategies are to be identified which can positively influence the transformation of societies and their economic and social development.

The sum of topics investigated within the focal area "Government und Governance" ranges from phenomena of "global governance", as well as problems of the modernisation of administration and local government including the use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and management problems of government, to aspects of "urban governance" in problematic central areas of city politics. Another interesting research topic here is the use of strategic communication in order to create willingness to cooperate among those impacted by decisions.