ICTs and Multi-Stakeholder Participation

Thanks to ICTs, individuals and organizations transform a grasp of how the world works into working knowledge. This skill revolution consists of an interplay between technologies, education and experience.  These three elements make individuals grow exponentially and enable them to catch the attention of global leaders. [1] Governments, corporations and other collectivities also gained new skills but this increase is pale compared to the one of micro-level. Indeed, the main transformation is the empowerment of the individual around the world. In the western world, the skill revolution started with education, whereas in the global south it started with experience. ICTs accelerated the pace of the learning process: people everywhere in the world learn faster. In other words, “the world has entered the age of the person.” [2] ICTs combined with this skill revolution also leads also to an organizational revolution, where individuals and organizations come together in new ways in horizontal and vertical structures of authority. [3]

Not only ICTs support actors in acquiring new skills, but they also contribute to the emergence of new spaces for interaction. These new structures of authority are in early stage of development, their emergence is not likely to be signaled by some sort of founding event, but they will tend toward a developing and variable structure and nature since any social form is subject to changes in relevant contexts from one time to the next.[4] These new structures of authority correspond to a coherent configuration of organization, space, and interaction.[5] ICTs impact indeed global institutions by giving new prominence to the communicative dimension of governance. This is crucial since power within digital networks is often associated with actors’ capacity to direct and control the construction of meanings (Benkler 2011; Castells 2011; Padovani and Pavan 2015; Pavan 2012). Relations are made primarily through the establishment of communicative interactions in a digital space.[6]

Since we live in a globalized, interdependent world, the space of political, economic and social co-decision is becoming global.[7] The discipline that has had cross-border relations at its core, international relations, remains mostly focused on the logic of relations between states and has not generally treated communication and information as essential to analysis. [8] By enabling the participation of non-conventional and non-governmental actors, ICTs foster the diversification of perspectives that underpin the definition of collective frames, which, in turn, guide the governance of any specific domain. In this sense, communication technologies enhance the possibility for individuals, groups and communities to challenge the traditional conduct of political processes and to take part in the articulation of alternative and competing discourses and frames. [9]

As mentioned in previous posts, many international health and financial institutions in  have developed online services to increase their transparency and efficiency. In other words, these organizations increase the capacity of their members and selected stakeholders to access information, build capacity and take part in decisions. Based on the very nature of ICTs, it is possible to conclude new ICTs have a positive impact on the capacity of marginalized actors to participate in global governance. Through internet and online platforms, marginalized actors take part in multiple participative debates and soft regulation instruments that can enrich or divert the production of public legitimacy. They take part in multiple forums, open debates and collective decision-making processes that enhance information sharing and capacity building.[10]

In a multi-centric world, the politics of legitimacy construction works differently. States are supplemented by other actors in the process of this construction and the notion of legitimacy itself is weakened when actors at various levels joust for control and influence. In a world of technological plurality, with networks empowering various actors, it is more appropriate to conceptualize technological advocacy than legitimacy. Legitimacy often implies domination and obedience from the populations. In technological pluralism, competing and multiple technologies often have distinct, competing, or intersecting bases of support. [11]

Present government processes (local, regional, national and EU level) provide laws and regulations, interpret and define societal norms and deliver societal support services. Their legitimacy is derived through democratic processes combined with a requirement for transparency and accountability. In a world that is increasingly using non-physical communication and borderless interaction, the traditional roles and responsibilities of public administrations will be subject to considerable change and classical boundaries between citizens and their governments will become increasingly blurred (Pew Internet, 2010b). The balance of power between governments, societal actors and the population will have to adapt to these challenging new possibilities. [12]

The choice that will need to be made will be between creating a global political system as an expression of power relationships without cultural mediation or developing a global public sphere around the global networks of communication, from which the public debate could inform the emergence of a new form of consensual global governance. If the choice is the latter, public diplomacy, understood as networked communication and shared meaning, becomes a decisive tool for the attainment of a sustainable world order. If the choice is the latter, public diplomacy, understood as networked communication and shared meaning, becomes a decisive tool for the attainment of a sustainable world order.[13]

[1] Rosenau, Townes: People on the Internet as agents of change, in Brousseau, E., Marzouki, M., & Méadel, C. (2012). Governance, Regulation and Powers on the Internet. (E. Brousseau, M. Marzouki, & C. Méadel, Eds.). Cambridge University Press, p.117

[2] Rosenau, Townes: People on the Internet as agents of change, in Brousseau, E., Marzouki, M., & Méadel, C. (2012). Governance, Regulation and Powers on the Internet. (E. Brousseau, M. Marzouki, & C. Méadel, Eds.). Cambridge University Press, p.116

[3] Rosenau, Townes: People on the Internet as agents of change, in Brousseau, E., Marzouki, M., & Méadel, C. (2012). Governance, Regulation and Powers on the Internet. (E. Brousseau, M. Marzouki, & C. Méadel, Eds.). Cambridge University Press, p.118

[4] Latham, R., & Saskia, S. (2005). Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm. (R. Latham & S. Saskia, Eds.). Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s4z8, p.9

[5] Latham, R., & Saskia, S. (2005). Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm. (R. Latham & S. Saskia, Eds.). Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s4z8, p.10

[6] Padovani, C., & Pavan, E. (2016). Global governance and ICTs: exploring online governance networks around gender and media. Global Networks, 16(3), 350–371. https://doi.org/10.1111/glob.12119, p.351

[7] Castells, M. (2008). The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616, 78–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716207311877, p.91

[8] Latham, R., & Saskia, S. (2005). Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm. (R. Latham & S. Saskia, Eds.). Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s4z8, p.3

[9] Padovani, C., & Pavan, E. (2016). Global governance and ICTs: exploring online governance networks around gender and media. Global Networks, 16(3), 350–371. https://doi.org/10.1111/glob.12119, p.353

[10] Brousseau, E., Marzouki, M., & Méadel, C. (2012). Governance, Regulation and Powers on the Internet. (E. Brousseau, M. Marzouki, & C. Méadel, Eds.). Cambridge University Press, p.10

[11] Singh: information technologies and the changing scope of global power and governance, in Rosenau, J. N. (2002). Information technologies and global politics : the changing scope of power and governance / ed. by James N. Rosenau and J. P. Singh. Information technologies and global politics : the changing scope of power and governance. Albany : State Univ. of New York Press, p.25

[12] Misuraca, G., Broster, D., & Centeno, C. (2012). Digital Europe 2030: Designing scenarios for ICT in future governance and policy making. Government Information Quarterly, 29(SUPPL. 1), S121–S131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2011.08.006, p.127

[13] Castells, M. (2008). The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616, 78–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716207311877, p.91