Security, democracy and networks

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It is commonplace nowadays to talk about the transition from government to governance. There has been a gradual questioning of traditional notions of government by state institutions with their hierarchic or bureaucratic traditions, beliefs and practices. Nowadays, political decision-making is not confined to state structures. Rather, policy is formulated and implemented using many formal and informal institutions, procedures and tools. The term ‘governance’ captures this shift.

Scholars and practitioners now recognize the importance of building both strategic and operational relationships between several parties if policy is to be effective. Complex public policies such as health care, policing, social welfare and counter-terrorism can no longer be dealt with effectively and efficiently by any one organization. The cross-sectoral issues of advanced industrial societies require the cooperation of, and coordination between, a wide variety of state institutions, corporations, non-governmental agencies and community-based organizations. The idea of ‘governance through networks’ recognises that policy and its management takes place in, and through, networks of such agencies.

Governance networks are desirable because they help to identify potential problems and allow for flexible responses. Networks also provide frameworks in which goals and strategies can be negotiated and provide opportunities for joint decision-making that reduce the scope for disagreement during implementation. That being said, all governing structures, whether hierarchies, markets or networks, fail at some level. What is required is a better understanding of the conditions that allow for effective and successful governance networks. Some suggest that governments seeking to manage networks confront four dilemmas: competition vs. cooperation, accountability vs. efficiency, openness vs. closure, and governability vs. flexibility. Through the window of security, this project will thus explore such dilemmas with a focus on two questions:

  1. How do we examine, assess and manage governance networks?
  2. What is the effect of network governance on Australian representative democracy?

The proposed workshop will explore the dilemmas posed for policing and security by the shift to network governance; that is, the shift from state provision of security to its provision by many institutions in the public and private sector. Furthermore, the program will examine the effects of these dilemmas on several security networks, consisting of: private security; public policing; private military organizations; national and transnational public policing; and international development agencies.

The workshop will bring together academics and practitioners concerned with the efficiency, effectiveness and regulation of the network governance of policing and security. We will invite scholars known for their work on network governance. Also invited are specialists in policing and security as well as practitioners involved in community policing, domestic security and international peace building and law enforcement assistance in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Event Schedule

Contact Information

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

    ABN: 59 957 839 703
  • Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
  • Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • +61 .2 62491788
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  • secretariat@assa.edu.au