Legitimizing Private Actors in Global Governance: From Performance to Performativity

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Legitimizing Private Actors in Global Governance: From Performance to Performativity


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


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


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/pag.v5i1.773