Alternative Governance Systems

Government refers to formal rules, while governance refers to good order and working relations. In many developed and developing contexts, government is unable or unwilling to establish good order and working relationships. For many communities, trust in government is absent, and the state is considered predatory. The result is the flourishing of diverse governance arrangements around the world. On the one hand we see new governing systems such as the blockchain emerge, while on the other we see the resurgence of “traditional” or customary forms of governance. International institutions, often viewed as a solution, can exacerbate or amplify the worst features of political institutions. This project considers the diversity of governance structures that exist outside of the formal apparatus of government that enable people to realize their goals. Through research and workshops, this activity illustrates the diversity of these alternative governance structures around the globe, with an eye on understanding why the emerge, how they work, and productive ways to leverage their governance capacity to improve the workings of government.