The Greek reference to the term governance and its subsequent translations are not conclusive to the exact meaning of the term. Attempts at distinction, although evident in subsequent translations, are not authoritative due to lack of consistency in the definitions. A prominent distinction was made by Plato who used the term to describe the act of governing men (Hufty, 2009; Oliveira, 2003), despite also being a translation, it demonstrated that the term is generic and can be applied in different contexts.
Furthermore, it can be observed that Plato’s application of the term, and its relative era of usage in relation to the origin of the word, have significant authority over more recent applications. Martin (2009) insist that governance as a synonym of controlling and essence of its paradigm lies in an authority that monitors and makes necessary adjustments to the systems. They generalise the governance paradigm in three fundamental assumptions:
- There is a target system that interacts with the environment.
- The target system requires to be governed, and
- A governing system does the actual governing.
Additionally, these three assumptions generalise the relationships between systems as input and output interactions, and emphasise the explicit usage of term system, systems and their interactions are defined in Governance Paradigm Foundation:
Martin (2009) explicit usage of term system enforces a structured approach to defining elements and their interactions (Martin, 2009). Governance is generalisable (Hufty, 2009), and this framework provides a comprehensive and generic foundation that can be used to build a technical perspective through its application. The approach taken by Martin (2009) is based on their targeted use of the term governance as a controlling mechanism that influences authoritative forces on a target system.
Interestingly the model by Martin (2009) that proposes the function of governance in a distinct governance system is in contrast to Hufty’s conclusion that governance is a social fact (Hufty, 2009). Hufty defines governance concept as a category of social facts, or a subject of study and suggests that “it refers to a process of interactions between actors involved in a collective issue that lead to decisions and the formulation of social norms” (Hufty, 2009). Although the framework defined by Martin (2009) does accommodate the definition of interactions between actors, it does not accommodate the importance of social factors identified by Hufty (Hufty, 2009).
Clearly, this unique perspective of governance deviates from current reductionist and mechanic paradigm and focuses more on the social aspect of social organisation. Furthermore, this deviation fundamentally changes the perspective from enforcing structure to facilitating the process through the structure, this allowing social organisation ability to self-organise.