" ITREALMS: There’s no single best-fit model for multistakeholder governance groups -Study

Sunday, January 18, 2015

There’s no single best-fit model for multistakeholder governance groups -Study

The latest study by the Global Network of Internet and Society Centers on Multistakeholder as governance groups, has revealed there is no single best-fit model for multistakeholder governance groups, reports ITRealms.

The Executive Director, Berkman Center and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice, Urs Gasser, 
who led the international effort on the study, declared to ITRealms that multistakeholder groups are at cross-road when it comes to the global governance of the Internet, where issues must not only be responded to complex technical challenges, but also deal with a broad range of policy issues ranging from cybersecurity to net neutrality and human rights.

"This collaborative research wants to strengthen the evidence-base as we search for future governance models that preserve the generativity and openness of the Internet, while also addressing pressing challenges and problems," he said.

Gasser also said that at a point where the future of Internet governance is being re-envisioned, the report deepened the understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups. 

ITRealms reports that the study concluded by stated in part that:

“there is no single best-fit model for multistakeholder governance groups that can be applied in all instances. Rather, it reveals a range of approaches, mechanisms, and tools available for both the formation and operation of such groups. The analysis demonstrates that the success of governance groups depends to a large degree on the careful selection, deployment, and management of suitable instruments from this ‘toolbox’. As governance groups pass through different phases of operation, conveners and facilitators must remain alert to changes in circumstances that necessitate adjustments to the approaches, mechanisms, and tools that they deploy in order to address evolving challenges from inside and from outside. The case study series provides insights into how those instruments can be deployed and adjusted over time within such groups, and highlights how their interactions with important contextual factors may be successfully managed within given resource restraints.”

Other key observations from the study, as further described in the synthesis paper, include:

             Inclusiveness (including mechanisms for participation) and transparency are critical factors to be managed and adjusted throughout the lifecycle of governance groups.

             How governance groups define accountability and legitimacy is highly reflective of and dependent on contextual factors.

             Different governance groups have different measures of success and effectiveness that are tied to their unique contexts and to factors that change over time.

The report is the first study by the recently launched Global Network of Internet and Society Centers, which brings together over 30 academic institutions from around the globe. As a milestone, it demonstrates that a global network of academic research centers can create a shared repository of timely and relevant research, which includes peer-reviewed methodologies and adherence to academic standards, open data, and expertise on diverse issues related to global policy debates.  

More broadly, the Network of Centers seeks to contribute to a more generalized vision and longer-term strategy for academia regarding its roles in research, facilitation and convening, and education in and communication about the Internet age.

Grasser was joined in the study by Ryan Budish, Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Sarah Myers West University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication.

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