The Creative Disorder of Measuring Governance and Stateness

  • Debora Valentina Malito


Measures of governance and stateness have grown substantially in number over the recent decade and gained greater importance in building public discourses and orienting decision-making. Yet there seems to be little agreement on what exactly these measures represent. This paper claims that the proliferation of metrics can only be understood against the conceptual hybridity and indeterminacy in which the notions of governance and stateness have in recent decades become increasingly entangled. In sum, the nébuleuse of governance metrics reflects the nébuleuse of governing actors and structures informing this process. To frame this “creative disorder”, the first part of the chapter introduces the current debate on measuring governance and stateness. It then explores the semantic fields of the two concepts, while the third one provides an overview on existing measures and methodological questions. The fourth part explores normative demands and policy prescriptions linked to this production. The fifth section analyses in depth three different measures: The Rule of Law Index (RoLI), the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGIs), and the State Fragility Index (SFI). The sixth part concludes by summarising the relevance of exploring both conceptual and normative challenges in production of these measures.


Governance Stateness Measures Indicators The Rule of Law Index Sustainable Governance Indicators State Fragility Index 


  1. Andrews, M. (2008). The Good Governance Agenda: Beyond Indicators Without Theory. Oxford Development Studies, 36(4), 379–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, M. (2010). Good Government Means Different Things in Different Countries. Governance, 23(1), 7–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barakat, S., & Larson, A. (2014). Fragile States: A Donor-Serving Concept? Issues with Interpretations of Fragile Statehood in Afghanistan. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8(1), 21–41. doi: 10.1080/17502977.2013.770263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, M., & Duvall, R. (2005). Power in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Batley, R., & Mcloughlin, C. (2010). Engagement with Non-State Service Providers in Fragile States: Reconciling State-Building and Service Delivery. Development Policy Review, 28(2), 131–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bell, S., & Morse, S. (2008). Sustainability Indicators: Measuring the Immeasurable? London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  7. Bertelsmann Foundation. (2014). Policy Performance and Governance Capacities in the OECD and EU. Gütersloh: Bertelsemann Shiftung. Retrieved from
  8. Bertelsmann Stiftung. (2005). Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2006. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Retrieved from
  9. Bhuta, N. (2012). Governmentalizing Sovereignty: Indexes of State Fragility and the Calculability of Political Order. In K. Davis, A. Fisher, B. Kingsbury, & S. E. Merry (Eds.), Governance by Indicators: Global Power Through Quantification and Rankings (pp. 132–164). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Börzel, T. A. (2005). European Governance–Markt, Hierarchie oder Netzwerk. In G. F. Schuppert, I. Pernice, & U. Haltern (Eds.), Europawissenschaft (pp. 613–641). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  11. Börzel, T. A., Pamuk, Y., & Stahn, A. (2008). Good Governance in the European Union (Berliner Arbeitspapier Zur Europäischen Integration). Berlin: Freie Universität zu Berlin. Retrieved from
  12. Botero, J. C., & Ponce, A. (2011). Measuring the Rule of Law (The World Justice Project – Working Paper Series, WPS No. 001). Washington, DC: The World Justice Project. Retrieved from
  13. Boutros-Ghali, B. (1996). An Agenda for Democratization. New York: United Nations, Department of Public Information. Retrieved from
  14. Bovaird, T., & Löffler, E. (2003). Evaluating the Quality of Public Governance: Indicators, Models and Methodologies. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 69(3), 313–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Caplan, R. (2007). From Collapsing States to Neo-Trusteeship: The Limits to Solving the Problem of “Precarious Statehood” in the 21st century. Third World Quarterly, 28(2), 231–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Carment, D., Samy, Y., & Prest, S. (2008). State Fragility and Implications for Aid Allocation: An Empirical Analysis. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 25(4), 349–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carment, D., Prest, S., & Samy, Y. (2009). Security, Development and the Fragile State: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Policy. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Chesterman, S., Ignatieff, M., & Thakur, R. C. (2005). Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Collier, D., & Levitsky, S. (1997). Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research. World Politics, 49(3), 430–451. doi: 10.1353/wp.1997.0009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cooley, A. (2014). The Emerging Politics of International Rankings and Ratings: A Framework for Analysis. In A. Cooley, & J. Snyder (Eds.), Ranking the World. Grading States as a Tool for Global Governance (pp. xiii–xiv). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
  21. Costa, P., & Zolo, D., (Eds.). (2007). The Rule of Law. History, Theory and Criticism. Dordrecht: Springer. Retrieved from
  22. Cox, R. W. (1980). The Crisis of World Order and the Problem of International Organization in the 1980s. International Journal, 35(2), 370–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cox, R. W. (1997). Democracy in Hard Times: Economic Globalization and the Limits to Liberal Democracy. In A. G. McGrew (Ed.), The Transformation of Democracy: Globalization and Territorial Democracy (Vol. 1, pp. 49–71). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  24. Curtin, D., & Wessel, R. A., (Eds.). (2005). Good Governance and the European Union: Reflections on Concepts, Institutions and Substance (Ius Commune Europaeum Vol. 49). Antwerp: Intersentia.Google Scholar
  25. Cutler, C. (2013). Legal Pluralism as the ‘Common Sense’ of Transnational Capitalism. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 3(4), 719–740.Google Scholar
  26. DFID. (2005). Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States. London: Department for International Development. Retrieved from
  27. European Commission. (2001, July 25). European Governance: A White Paper (Commission of the European Communities, doc 01/10, COM 2001/428). Brussels: Commission of the European Communities. Retrieved from
  28. Evans, P. (1997). The Eclipse of the State? Reflections on Stateness in an Era of Globalization. World Politics, 50(01), 62–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fearon, J. D., & Laitin, D. D. (2004). Neotrusteeship and the Problem of Weak States. International Security, 28(4), 5–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fine, B. (2009). Development as Zombieconomics in the Age of Neoliberalism. Third World Quarterly, 30(5), 885–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Finkelstein, L. S. (1995). What is Global Governance? Global Governance, 1(3), 367–372.Google Scholar
  32. Freedom House. (2014). About Freedom House. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from
  33. Galtung, F. (1998). Criteria for Sustainable Corruption Control. The European Journal of Development Research, 10(1), 105–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Galtung, F. (2006). Measuring the Immeasurable: Boundaries and Functions of (Macro) Corruption Indices. In C. J. G. Sampford, A. Shacklock, C. Connors, & F. Galtung (Eds.), Measuring Corruption (pp. 119–156). Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  35. Gehring, T. (1994). Dynamic International Regimes. Institutions for International Environmental Governance. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  36. Global Integrity. (2014). Global Integrity Index. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from
  37. Goldstone, J. A., Gurr, T. R., Harff, B., Levy, M. A., Marshall, M. G., Bates, R. H., ... & Unger, A. N. (2000). State Failure Task Force Report: Phase III Findings. McLean: Science Applications International Corporation, 30. Retrieved from
  38. Gruffydd Jones, B. (2013). “Good Governance” and “State Failure”: Genealogies of Imperial Discourse. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 26(1), 49–70. doi: 10.1080/09557571.2012.734785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Halperin, M. H., & Lomasney, K. (1993). Toward a Global“ Guarantee Clause”. Journal of Democracy, 4(3), 60–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hanson, J. K., & Sigman, R. (2013). Leviathan’s Latent Dimensions: Measuring State Capacity for Comparative Political Research (Manuscript, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, 1–41). Syracuse: Syracuse University. Retrieved from
  41. Jachtenfuchs, M., & Kohler-Koch, B. (2004). Governance and Institutional Development. In A. Wiener & T. Diez (Eds.), European Integration Theory (pp. 97–111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Jessop, B. (1997). Capitalism and its Future: Remarks on Regulation, Government and Governance. Review of International Political Economy, 4(3), 561–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jordan, A., Wurzel, R. K., & Zito, A. (2005). The Rise of “New” Policy Instruments in Comparative Perspective: Has Governance Eclipsed Government? Political Studies, 53(3), 477–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kaufmann, D., Kraay, A., & Mastruzzi, M. (2011). The Worldwide Governance Indicators: Methodology and Analytical Issues. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 3(2), 220–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Knack, S. (2001). Aid Dependence and the Quality of Governance: Cross-Country Empirical Tests. Southern Economic Journal, 68(2), 310–329. doi: 10.2307/1061596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Knack, S., Kugler, M., & Manning, N. (2003). Second-Generation Governance Indicators. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 69(3), 345–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kooiman, J. (2003). Governing as Governance. London: SAGE Publication.Google Scholar
  48. Lake, D. A. (2009). Relational Authority and Legitimacy in International Relations. American Behavioral Scientist, 53(3), 331–353. doi: 10.1177/0002764209338796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lambsdorff, J. G. (2007). The Institutional Economics of Corruption and Reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Levi-Faur, D. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lynn, L. E. J. (2013). The Many Faces of Governance: Adaptation? Transformation? Both? Neither? In D. Levi-Faur (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance (pp. 49–64). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Malito, D. V. (2011). Somalia and State-Building: State Capacity or State Autonomy? A Critical Review of How to Decolonize African Studies. Somaliland Journal of Peace and Development, 1(1), 56–74.Google Scholar
  53. Malito, D. V. (2014). Measuring Corruption Indicators and Indices (Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper 2014/13). Florence: European University Institute. Retrieved from
  54. Manuel, M., McKechnie, A., King, M., Coppin, E., & Denney, L. (2012). Innovative Aid Instruments and Flexible Financing: Providing Better Support to Fragile States. London: Overseas Development Institute. Retrieved from
  55. Marshall, M. G., & Cole, B. R. (2008). Global Report 2008. Conflict, Governance and State Fragility. Vienna: Center for Systemic Peace. Retrieved from
  56. Marshall, M. G., & Cole, B. R. (2009). Global Report 2009: Conflict, Governance, and State Fragility. Vienna: Center for Systemic Peace. Retrieved from
  57. Marshall, M. G., & Cole, B. R. (2010). State Fragility Index and Matrix 2009. Vienna: Center for Systemic Peace. Retrieved from
  58. Mata, J. F., & Ziaja, S. (2009). Users’ Guide on Measuring Fragility. Bonn: German Development Institute. Retrieved from
  59. Menkhaus, K. J. (2010). State Fragility as a Wicked Problem. Prism, 1(2), 85–100.Google Scholar
  60. Milliken, J., & Krause, K. (2002). State Failure, State Collapse, and State Reconstruction: Concepts, Lessons and Strategies. Development and Change, 33(5), 753–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Murphy, C. N. (2000). Global Governance: Poorly Done and Poorly Understood. International Affairs, 76(4), 789–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nettl, J. P. (1968). The State as a Conceptual Variable. World Politics, 20(04), 559–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nye, J. S. (1990). Soft Power. Foreign Policy, 80, 153–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. OECD. (2014). Glossary of Statistical Terms. Governance. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from
  65. Paris Declaration. (2005). Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Ownership, Harmonisation, Alignment, Results and Mutual Accountability. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from
  66. Rice, S. E., & Patrick, S. (2008). Index of State Weakness in the Developing World. Global Economy and Development. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from
  67. Richards, D., & Smith, M. J. (2002). Governance and Public Policy in the United Kingdom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Ringer, T. (2014). Development, Reform, and the Rule of Law: Some Prescriptions for a Common Understanding of the “Rule of Law” and its Place in Development Theory and Practice. Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, 10(1), 5.Google Scholar
  69. Rosamond, B. (2000). Theories of European Integration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  70. Rosenau, J. N. (1995). Governance in the Twenty-First Century. Global Governance, 1(1), 179–209.Google Scholar
  71. Rosenau, J. N., & Czempiel, E.-O., (Eds.). (1992). Governance Without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Vol. 20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
  72. Rotberg, R. I. (2003). State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  73. Rotberg, R. I. (2014). Good Governance Means Performance and Results. Governance, 27(3), 511–518. Retrieved from Scholar
  74. Sanín, F. G. (2011). Evaluating State Performance: A Critical View of State Failure and Fragility Indexes. European Journal of Development Research, 23(1), 20–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sartori, G. (1970). Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics. The American Political Science Review, 64(4), 1033–1053. doi: 10.2307/1958356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schmitter, P. C., & Karl, T. L. (1991). What Democracy Is... and Is Not. Journal of Democracy, 2(3), 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schraad-Tischler, D., & Seelkopf, L. (2014). Concept and Methodology – Sustainable Governance Indicators 2014. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Retrieved from
  78. Soederberg, S. (2004). The Politics of the New International Financial Architecture: Reimposing Neoliberal Domination in the Global South. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  79. Sotiropoulos, D. A., Featherstone, K., & Karadag, R. (2014). 2014 Greece Report. Bertelsmann Stiftung. Retrieved from
  80. The 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index. (2014). Dubai: Legatum Institute. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from
  81. The Fund for Peace. (2014). The Methodology Behind the Index. Washington, DC: The Fund for Peace.
  82. The Hertie School of Governance. (2014). The Governance Report 2014. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  83. The World Bank. (2007a). IDA’s Performance Based Allocation Systems: Options for Simplifying the Formula and Reducing Volatility. International Development Association Resource Mobilization (FRM). Washington, DC: World Bank. Retrieved from
  84. The World Bank. (2007b). World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  85. The World Bank Group. (2011). CPIA 2011 Criteria. Washington, DC: The World Bank Group. Retrieved from
  86. The World Justice Project. (2012a, May 9). Engagement. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from file://localhost/Users/bonis/Library/Application%20Support/Zotero/Profiles/p3g9sax9.default/zotero/storage/W3JXWSVC/programs-events.htmlGoogle Scholar
  87. The World Justice Project. (2012b, May 9). What is the Rule of Law? Retrieved July 16, 2014, from
  88. The World Justice Project. (2014). WJP Rule of Law Index 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from
  89. Thomas, M. A. (2010). What Do the Worldwide Governance Indicators Measure. European Journal of Development Research, 22(1), 31–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Umbach, G. (2007). Intent and Reality of a New Mode of Governance: “Get together” or “Mind the Gap”? The Impact of the European Employment Strategy on the Europeanisation of National Employment Policy Co-ordination and Policies in the United Kingdom and Germany. PhD Thesis, University of Cologne.Google Scholar
  91. Umbach, G. (2009). Intent and Reality of the European Employment Strategy: Europeanisation of National Employment Policies and Policy Making? Baden Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  92. United Nations. (2014). Global Issues at the United Nations. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from
  93. US Agency of International Development (USAID). (2005). Fragile States strategy. Washington, DC: USAID.Google Scholar
  94. Weber, M. (1991). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  95. Weiss, T. G. (2000). Governance, Good Governance and Global Governance: Conceptual and Actual Challenges. Third World Quarterly, 21(5), 795–814.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Weiss, T. G., & Wilkinson, R. (2013). International Organization and Global Governance. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  97. Wilkes, J. (2004). Corporate Governance and Measuring Performance. Measuring Business Excellence, 8(4), 13–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Zanotti, L. (2005). Governmentalizing the Post–Cold War International Regime: The UN Debate on Democratization and Good Governance. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 30(4), 461–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Ziaja, S. (2012). What Do Fragility Indices Measure? Assessing Measurement Procedures and Statistical Proximity. Zeitschrift Für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 6(S1), 39–64. doi: 10.1007/s12286-012-0123-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debora Valentina Malito
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations