Legitimizing Private Actors in Global Governance: From Performance to Performativity

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Legitimizing Private Actors in Global Governance: From Performance to Performativity


  • Elke Krahmann Department of Economics, Witten/Herdecke University, Germany


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Abstract:  Global governance is frequently criticised because of major legitimacy deficits, including lack of public accountability and democratic control. Within this context, questions about the legitimacy of non-state governance actors, such as non-governmental organizations, transnational corporations and private security companies, are neither an exception nor a surprise. Many actors have, therefore, turned to the measurement of performance, defined as publicly beneficial outcomes, in order to gain legitimacy. However, the rise of performance assessments as legitimizing practice is not without problems. Taking global security and health interventions as examples, this article contends that the immaterial, socially constructed and inherently contested nature of such public goods presents major obstacles for the assessment of performance in terms of observable, measurable and attributable outcomes. Performance is therefore frequently replaced by performativity, i.e. a focus on the repetitive enactment of specific forms of behaviour and capabilities, which are simply equated with the intended results. The implications for how global public goods are conceptualized and, ultimately, implemented are profound.

Keywords:  global governance; legitimacy; performance; performance measurement; performativity

Published:   15 March 2017


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v5i1.773


© Elke Krahmann. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.