The aim of this paper is to explore for a broader legal audience what researchers and theorists in a wide range of fields have made of the ferment in governance, and to identify important lessons for people interested in how to improve it locally, nationally, and internationally. We seek to link what lawyers are writing to a rich literature on governance theory and practice in other fields. Specifically, we address two main problems. The Description Problem poses the question of what is the most accurate, as opposed to the formal, description of where governance is located and how it is exercised? The Prescription Problem is how to reform or replace institutional forms and constraining norms that no longer perform the functions they once did. In the words of Roberto Unger, legal scholars tend towards a kind of “institutional fetishism” in matters of governance, behaving as if the only institutions that can deliver the goods of good governance are those that have done so in the past. The Prescription Problem in this light is a challenge to practice true innovation in governance.

Included in

Law Commons