Governing the ungovernable: The challenge of a global disaggregation of authority


  • Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the annual conference of the International Society for NeoInstitutional Economics, Tucson, Arizona, USA (30 September to 3 October 2004), and the conference sponsored by the Governance Research Group at the University of Ghent, Belgium (14–15 November 2005).

Professor James N. Rosenau, The George Washington University, Gelman 709C, 2130 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA. Email:


The processes of globalization have led to a proliferation of spheres of authority and significant challenges for global governance. In this paper is discussed the concept of spheres of authority, the factors that encourage their proliferation, and the prospects for global governance in a world of disaggregated authority. The proliferation of spheres of authority does not mean that global governance is impossible, but that it will not result from a global government. Instead, governance will emerge from the interaction of overlapping spheres of authority; regulation will be achieved not through centralized authority but through the spread of norms, informal rules, and regimes.