Our understanding of good governance

The term “governance” encompasses all actors and regulations of processes that – in a preparatory, implementing and controlling manner – help to shape decisions that are controversial in a community or an organization and yet have to be made binding for all. These may be schools, businesses, municipalities, states, global organizations or global activities such as sports or economic sectors. Governance can be followed by normative or simply de facto rules. Just informal rules, e.g. in culture, attitudes, values, habits or routines of the acting persons, often have a greater influence on decisions than written paragraphs.

“Good governance” is based on values ​​and pursues goals that have developed over centuries, and that were finally defined in the formulation of human rights (eg the United Nations in 1948) and political and social fundamental rights (UN Social Charter, European Social Charter, German Basic Law). They define a normative basic consensus, in which good governance finds its legitimacy.

Central principles of good governance are accountability, transparency of decisions and participation of those who are subject to decisions. In the political space this affects the constitutional foundations of a community.

Our understanding of good governance is based on normative democracies, whose decision-making processes must include new actors and procedures in order to implement principles, transparency and participation more effectively. At all levels in the pre-state area in the political arena, processes of understanding need to be established to ensure that the representative-democratically legitimized decisions are more transparent, more competent and more equitable, in order to make the equal dignity of all people – the normative foundation of democracies – more effective. An effective and successful method are argumentative debates – a “deliberation” and “antagonistic cooperation” – between governmental policy, business representatives and organized civil society (including trade unions and churches). At the same time, science should feed its insights into this debate and media should provide for the communication of these deliberation processes.

Good governance is not a closed model, but learns from experiences and develops further and further in order to achieve the goal of the same dignity of all people globally.


Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen
Lead: Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen

Our Good Governance projects

Integrity Initiatives

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Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI)

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Climate Transparency

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Garment Industries Transparency Initiative (GITI)

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