Research Area I: Transnational Governance and the Responsibility of Private Actors

Focus: Implementation of Human Rights, Digitalization

► Political Authority and Knowledge Politics in Polycentric and Fragmented Governance Networks
► Kowledge Diffusion as a Means of Building Steering Capacity
► Formation and Effects of Meta-Governance
► The Role of the State in Relation to Private Governance Initiatives

Even before the current crisis of multilateralism, global ordering increasingly took place outside international organizations and far from state authority. From defining problems to designing concrete policies, in many fields global governance takes the form of "polycentric" and fragmented governance networks, in which not only private but also state actors are in search of new roles that are negotiated and established. INEF's empirical work in this area focuses on the implementation of labour, social and environmental standards in global value chains (e. g. in the textile sector), the implementation of the right to health in global health policy or the role of the state in global Internet governance.

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As our previous work has shown, private actors are increasingly gaining political authority through transnational governance arrangements by using these processes of self- and external attribution of responsibility in terms of power and legitimacy politics, creating generally binding transnational regulations. The example of global value chains also shows how strongly governance practices are based on the development of (transnational) epistemic networks. The specific forms of "knowledge politics" that become recognizable also reflect underlying power relations. In this polycentric governance architecture, meta-governance (the governance of governance), plays an essential role in the institutional design of governance and its practice. Meta-governance has long ceased to be the domain of state actors but has developed in the interaction between state and private actors as well as inter- and transnational institutions. Meta-governance encompasses values, norms and principles that guide problem-solving and serve as a benchmark for evaluating gov-ernance performance. INEF work in this field focuses strongly on the implementation of human rights such as the right to health or the regulation of the Internet.

Despite the increasingly important role of private governance initiatives, the role of the state in global governance remains central in many areas. Not only in the case of concrete failure of self-governance and market failure is the state still the legiti-mate representative of the public interest. In meta-governance at the latest, state representatives must assume responsibility for designing governance networks. In some areas, such as Internet governance, states are faced with the task of having to make a new or stronger contribution to areas that are already privately regulated. Since such state meta-governance can only overcome the weaknesses of hierarchical control by means of reflexivity, INEF also examines how state actors succeed in ensuring adequate knowledge diffusion in order to build up the necessary regulative capacities.

Selected Publications

► Roth, Michèle / Ulbert, Cornelia 2018: Cooperation in a Post-Western World: Challenges and future prospects (Global Trends. Analysis 01/2018) Bonn: Stiftung Entwicklung und Frieden.

► Mondré, Aletta / Niemann, Holger / Scheper, Christian / Ulbert, Cornelia 2017: Praktiken der Verantwortungszuschreibung: Transnationale Regelsetzung und politische Autorität privater Unternehmen, in: Daase, Christopher / Junk, Julian / Kroll, Stefan / Rauer, Valentin (Hrsg.): Politik und Verantwortung. Analysen zum Wandel politischer Entscheidungs- und Rechtfertigungspraktiken. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 358-382. DOI: 10.5771/9783845271934-359

► Scheper, Christian 2019: Menschenrechte als private Legitimitätspolitik: Politische Autorität und völkerrechtliche Rechtfertigung von Unternehmenspraktiken, in: ZIB Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, 26: 1, 5-27. DOI: 10.5771/0946-7165-2019-1-5

► Ulbert, Cornelia / Finkenbusch, Peter / Sondermann, Elena / Debiel, Tobias (Hrsg.) 2018: Moral Agency and the Politics of Responsibility. London/New York: Routledge. DOI: 10.4324/9781315201399


Dr. Christian Scheper

Room: LS 032
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-4424
Staff Portfolio

Dr. Cornelia Ulbert

Room: LS 119
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-4422
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Elena Sondermann, M.A.

Room: LS 033
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-1916
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Dr. Carolina Alves Vestena

Room: LS 032
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-3675
Staff Portfolio