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The Fragmentation of Global Governance Architectures: a Framework for Analysis

  • Frank Biermann
  • Philipp Pattberg
  • Harro van Asselt
  • Fariborz Zelli
Publishing year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 14-14
Publication/Series: Global Environmental Politics
Volume: 9
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Project MUSE

Abstract english

Most research on global governance has focused either on theoretical accounts of the overall phenomenon or on empirical studies of distinct institutions that serve to solve particular governance challenges. In this article we analyze instead “governance architectures,” defined as the overarching system of public and private institutions, principles, norms, regulations, decision-making procedures and organizations that are valid or active in a given issue area of world politics. We focus on one aspect that is turning into a major source of concern for scholars and policy-makers alike: the “fragmentation” of governance architectures in important policy domains. The article offers a typology of different degrees of fragmentation, which we describe as synergistic, cooperative, and conflictive fragmentation. We then systematically assess alternative hypotheses over the relative advantages and disadvantages of different degrees of fragmentation. We argue that moderate degrees of fragmentation may entail both significant costs and benefits, while higher degrees of fragmentation are likely to decrease the overall performance of a governance architecture. The article concludes with policy options on how high degrees of fragmentation could be reduced. Fragmentation is prevalent in particular in the current governance of climate change, which we have hence chosen as illustration for our discussion.


  • Political Science
  • international organisations
  • institutional theory
  • climate change
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • climate governance
  • Interplay
  • environmental institutions
  • Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)
  • transnationalism
  • Multi-level governance


  • Miljöpolitik-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 1526-3800
Fariborz Zelli
E-mail: fariborz [dot] zelli [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 47 64



Associate professor

Department of Political Science



Fariborz is director of the NAVIGOV project. He received the outstanding Ph.D. thesis award of the University of Tübingen and the award for outstanding teaching performance of the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Ongoing research projects

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences