What is Governance

Governance described and detailed as a conceptual perspective of a particular domain and its context, it’s aimed at unambiguously conveying a context of an entity within its domain that contributes to its behaviour. This notion can be observed in numerous usages of the term in different context as well as in the generic all-encompassing technical nature of those terms.

The organisation is a self-organising system; it consists of interconnected social and technical sub-systems, all of these systems being influenced towards idealistic organisational purposes. Furthermore, the organisation is a social system and cannot be reduced to a simple technical model, this being contrary to the aim of establishing governance definition.

In the context of an organisation, governance is a perspective of an organisation. This perspective is perceived to provide a deterministic model of organisation, model that, in turn, can be used to forecast the behaviour of the organisation. This notion can be observed in the form of persistent attempts to leverage the term in domains where it’s applied. Numerous exhaustive efforts to leverage governance have led to the development of technical control mechanisms that are sought for replication in order to achieve predictable outcomes by organisations in all spheres of society.

The paradox of these mechanical or technical control mechanisms is their nature as persisted repeatable social patterns of behaviours or as defined by (Hufty, 2009) as institutionalised norms. This fundamental nature predicts their ability to apply in a different social context. The ability to use these mechanisms in a social setting is dependent on social context accepting the pattern of behaviour prescribed. Employing a particular prescribed pattern of behaviour in an incompatible social context causes exceptions; these exceptions can be observed in many failures of applying prescribed practice in companies, institutions and countries. As the existence of those social organisations demonstrates that ultimately they are already aligned to the external environment, this being due to their self-organisation nature.

Fundamentally this paradox demonstrates to us that even in the absence of clear governance definition, social contexts continue to operate, and if the governance is the guiding principle, then those social contexts are being led by an invisible hand. Although proponents of governance would stipulate that governance awareness would constitute measurable benefit, those social contexts already have all the required stimulation for existence. Axiom being that an existing organisation has governance.


Following are terms that are used in conjunction when discussing governance a sympathetic comprehension of these terms would suffice for initial understanding.

The System

A general systems theory provides us with a notion of a “system”, this term system is defined as an arrangement of interacting objects, material or ideal nature, and is distinguishable from its environmet (Klauninger, 2001). The distinction here being that material objects is more predictable in their behaviour than ideal objects due to human cognition and free will (Klauninger, 2001; Fuchs, 2003). For example, a rock is a material system with predictable behaviour and a human, although being enslaved to the same physics laws as a rock has free will that gives freedom of behaviour. This definition is important as it enables forming a high-level context of a subject without a requirement to account constituting components.

The Social Self-organisation

Sociological theories provide us with a concept of social self-organisation, referring to the upper level of a hierarchy of a system, where individuals exercise freedom of conscious creation. This making social self-organisation unique in a structural sense as it involves permanent (re-)creation of new structures that influence individual thinking and actions (Fuchs, Jan 2001). This provides a fundamental base for social organisation, as it postulates that the locus of change with the organisation is with the individuals that make up that organisation.

The Organisation

The organisation is an organisation system that has social and technical sub-systems (Balloni & Bermejo, 2010). The separation of the organisational system into social and technical sub-systems is important as it separates the organisation into two notions of predictability of behaviour, technical systems being more predictable than social systems (Klauninger, 2001). Social systems are re-creative, can change, maintain, adapt, reproduce and can observe itself, and cannot be reduced to simple technical models (Fuch, 2002; Fuchs, 2001). Furthermore, social systems are self-organising and transforming systems that produce unpredictable emergent change (Millet, 1998). For example, an organisation can decide to stop operating by this effectively destroying itself, a formidable yet distant exercise for rock. This position enables us to discuss the organisation as a whole without deviating on complexities of components that make up organisations.

The Information System

All self-organising systems are information generating systems; each time a system organises itself, information is produced (Fuch, 2002). This means that organisations are information systems and individuals play a role in the generation of information in that organisation (Fuchs, Feb 2003). The role that an individual plays as the agent of change in an organisation is fundamental to organisations as information systems.


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