Governance and Government

What distinguishes governance from government, and how does this help us understand how power is distributed?

Before describing the differences between government and governance, it is important to understand the concepts themselves.

Government is a fairly straightforward concept the Webster dictionary defines it as:

 ‘the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc.’

Governance however is a more obscure concept and can have different meanings depending on who is defining the word. The World Bank for example defines governance as:

 ‘Governance is the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.’

This definition is hierarchal and vertical. The United Nation Development Program has a different definition of governance:

‘The exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. Governance is a neutral concept comprising the complex mechanism. Process, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences.’

This definition by the UNDP is a far more multi-faceted definition that takes into account the different levels of players and encourages a vibrant public sphere.

The difference seems to be government is the body who governs, while, governance is the style in which they govern and the style can change depending on organization, party in power etc.…

So to understand how power is distributed you must first understand the organization, government or whom ever you analyzing, their opinion on governance and structure in which they express their power or authority. You can also look at their organizational structure and decide who is in power and how do they create decision. Since each organization, government might have a different idea on governance you will have to individually access each case. Then you will begin to understand how power is distributed.



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