Christoph Knill


University of Konstanz


Abstract. The term governance has made an impressive career from the early 1990s onwards. It has developed into a catchword and focal point of an ever-growing number of studies in social and political sciences. Notwithstanding this development, we still lack a clear understanding of the concept. This paper seeks to address these deficits in two ways. On the one hand, a distinction is suggested between different ideal type patterns of governance that are characterized by a specific division of competencies between state and society. On the other hand, the appropriateness of different patterns is assessed by taking account of institutional and problem structures as well as normative criteria for the evaluation of governance success. As will become apparent from these considerations, any arguments and demands regarding a retreat or demise of the state, as they can often be found in the literature, are highly questionable. The state will continue to play a central role in governance, regardless of challenges to its internal and external autonomy.