Internet governance is an increasingly complex concept that operates at multiple levels and in different dimensions, making it necessary to have a better understanding of both how multistakeholder governance groups operate and how they best achieve their goals. The Berkman Center aims to deepen our understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups, and challenge conventional thinking.
While “multistakeholder governance” has many meanings, at its core it encompasses a wide variety of decision-making approaches that incorporate representatives from multiple groups in discussions and the formation of outcomes. In collaboration with the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC), we examined twelve diverse examples of multistakeholder governance groups and through comparison, extracted lessons that deepened our understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups. Examples included: the coordination of slotting guidelines for busy airports, Bitcoin code development processes, Creative Commons, anti-spam efforts in Brazil, the German Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society, water resource management in the White Volta River Basin, Internet exchange points, Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, Marco Civil, NETmundial, Switzerland’s coordinated deployment of fiber optic cable, and Turkey’s Internet Improvement Board.
To aid our efforts, the Berkman Center invited post-secondary students to examine and submit a case study of an innovative and globally-diverse multistakeholder governance group. From the submissions, we selected four essays for publication and recognition. The winning contributions reflected a diversity of insights, ideas, and perspectives about unique examples of multistakeholder governance. Essays examined a wide range of industries and regulatory bodies, analyzed their formation, operation, and participatory mechanisms, and considered the factors that made each successful or unique. Below are the title, author, and summary of each winning essay, along with a link to the paper:
Cash stipends awarded to the authors were made possible by a generous Google Research Grant to the Berkman Center.
These essays will not only assist our own ongoing study, but hopefully will stimulate independent and interdisciplinary research exploring both the opportunities and challenges of multistakeholder groups. We will also incorporate this work in a forthcoming Berkman Center report on multistakeholder governance. Our team congratulates these writers, and looks forward to collaborating with them to advance our research on the evolution of Internet governance.