Nation States: Organizational Hierarchies or Networks?

Last semester, during a seminar at Goethe Universität on Geographies of Violence: state, space and power relations in Latin America, the idea of “Nation States as institutional hierarchies” was fiercily challenged by the idea of “Nation States as networks”.

The “network party”, as Anne-Marie Slaughter calls it (2014: pp. 59), is a paradigm change for social organization. And though I do agree and believe that all interactions can now be referred to as networks, I believe it is early to redefine Nation States as networks.

Ultimately, Nation States still function as hierarchical structures, and though the concept of networked organization is indeed possible to be applied to understanding power relations, economic and social dynamics within them (and especially to their relations within the international system), understanding Nation States as networked organizations is something only feasible (to a large extent) in academic/conceptual thought.

Slaughter gives us valuable insights on why the transition from traditional hierarchical structures to networked organizations has not yet happened to Nation States. She draws a comparison between Hierarchies and Networks that clarifies why this is so:

  1. Networked organizations are more flexible (?), creative (?), adaptable (?), autonomous (?) and resilient (?) relative to hierarchies;
  2. Networks depend on trust (?) and reciprocity (?);
  3. Networks do not require a governing authority (?); and lastly
  4. Every organization features continuous  interplay between its informal networks and its formal structures (!). All formal hierarchies contain informal networks (!) ; all networks will develop informal hierarchies based on experience or expertise. (ibid.: pp. 63)

Based on her insights, Anne-Marie Slaughter helps us to understand Nation States as hierarchical structures featuring continuous interplay between its informal networks and its formal structures. I believe this is a more accurate description or even conception of the contemporary organizational model of Nation States.

Though a more detailed analysis is certainly needed to further understand the ongoing structural and paradigmatic transformation in society and in State institutions (especially through developing case studies, as different Nation States would certainly prove to be in different stages of this transformation), I suggest avoiding the assumption that the network paradigm has made its way through and substituted the hierarchical formalities of public governance.

 

Reference

Slaughter, A. (2017) The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World. Yale University Press.

Accelerating Energy Efficiency: Policy Briefs for the 2018 High Level Political Forum

The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets annually in July, under the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where countries present their Voluntary National Reviews (VRNs) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The HLPF also carries out thematic reviews of progress on the SDGs including cross-cutting issues. To facilitate an in-depth review of progress, the HLPF annually discusses a particular set of SDGs and their interlinkages. In 2018, the in-depth review will be carried out over SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15, as well as 17, which is reviewed annually.

As a Major Group Consultative Member for the ECOSOC Civil Society Network, my cooperative efforts are particularly focused on the private-public dialogue over policy briefs contained within the new publication “Accelerating SDG 7 achievement: Policy briefs in support of the first SDG 7 review at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2018”. The document was launched by the SDG7 Technical Advisory Group, in partnership with UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and includes 27 policy briefs relating to accelerating SDG 7 achievement.

Policy Brief #6 Energy Technology Innovation: Digitalization of Grid Services. Increasing the speed of digitalized technology development could lead to a first-mover advantage for pioneering countries or companies.

  • The need for resilient infrastructure, increasing stress on resources, and decentralized supply) and enabled by the interaction of various disciplines such as data and information networks. As the rate of interlinkages increases and improvements in data and information networks accelerate, we can expect rapid advances in the innovations that exploit the interactions of these technologies.
  • Technology such as sensors, robotics and advanced analytics, which together form advanced interconnected systems capable of quickly analyzing large amounts of data, are developing potentially transformative solutions, across various sectors, for improving energy efficiency and managing more variable renewable energy. This development is driven by continuous improvements, and the cost-performance curve of core digital technology building blocks: computing power, data storage, and bandwidth utilization.

Policy Brief #14 Interlinkages Between Energy and Sustainable Cities: Smart Grid and Smart Buildings. Cities are adopting more energy efficient policies and practices in the transport, buildings, industry, and commercial sectors.

  • The number of energy efficient building codes adopted by countries, and by-law at city levels, has increased in the last five years.
  • Smart grids are enabling major energy efficiency and resilience gains. Using ICTs, the grid is able to manage energy demand and use most efficient energy source on the system.

The formal session to review SDG7 will take place on 10 July from 11:00 to 13:00, during the HLPF 2018 and Side Events sponsored by Member States, UN system and other intergovernmental organizations, Major Groups and other accredited stakeholders will be held in the margins of the event. More information on the HLPF 2018 can be found here.

Advocacy strategy for the sustainable transition of high impact enterprises

Building a sustainable strategy sometimes demands complex action plans involving multidisciplinary and interdependent areas of any organization. Such approach may come at high planning and interwoven execution costs, which may represent the first barrier at the decision making process on transitioning from an ordinary twentieth century business to a sustainable twenty-first century enterprise.

However, if your organization is indeed intending to incorporate the new business development model in its institutional framework, action shall not precede planning, and a simple road map to guide a first discussion on which actions should be given priority to during the transitional phase – however long it may last – will certainly fit a broader purpose. The following are the four key elements I believe lies at the core of a well planned head start.

Research & Development: R&D is the primary element in changing the ways in any organization, thus it provides technological solutions for current industrial processes that may release harmful residues to the environment, as well as new modes of product development. As we experience great increase in innovation initiatives along with growing incentives, having a strong R&D system may support consistent economic and intellectual property growth.

Measures of Compensation: Sustainability implies rational use of resources, and that means understanding the need of mitigating negative environmental and social impacts through reconstructive initiatives, such as the recovery of damaged areas, treatment of contaminated resources or restablishment of displaced communities. This may intertwine with the organization’s R&D capacity, for the development of specific technologies, or plans for community engagement in the cases of considerable social impacts.

Community Engagement: It is important to engage community members for awareness growth. This is the element conducting collective and collaborative transformation, which may be provided through capacity building and interactive educational campaigns.

Corporate Governance: It is essentialy important for any institution to publicly engage through incorporating governmental measures and combining internal and public policies in order to attract political support and stronger institutional recognition. At a time when private sector is continuously growing its active participation in development policies construction, incorporating external policy models may contribute to building holistic synergies between enterprises, market, society and government.

Bilateral Relations Brazil – Finland

On February, 14 2012, Mr Jyrki Katainen, Prime Minister of Finland was received by Dilma Roussef, President of Brazil, with the second largest ever official delegation sent from Finland to anywhere in the world. They talked about strengthening bilateral cooperation on science, technology, innovation and education.

On Education, Mr Katainen assumed the commitment of providing better access to institutions and research centers in Finland, to students and researchers under the Brazilian national program Science without Borders. Representatives from the Brazilian national institutions that coordinate the program will sign an agreement that adds Finland to the program. It has also been agreed on adding the entrepreneurial sector to the educational opportunity in order to qualify workers already in the job market.

It the press release by the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, it is said that in order to strengthen bilateral cooperation on environmental issues, the countries are structuring a Memorandum of Understanding.

The bilateral diplomatic relations between Brazil and Finland has in records 6 (six) bilateral treaties, from which two are not valid. The existing agreements are as follows:

  • Agreement on Economic and Industrial Cooperation – celebrated in 1981 and put into force in 1983
  • Agreement on Cultural, Educational and Scientific Cooperation – celebrated in 1988 and put into force in 1990
  • Agreement to avoid double taxation and to prevent tax evasion on matters of income taxes – celebrated in 1996 and put into force in 1997
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Areas of Climate Change and the Development and Execution of Projects under the Clean Development Mechanism from the Kyoto Protocol – celebrated and put into force in 1997

It is important that private sector, civil society and other interests groups follow up on these governmental agreements. They are important instruments and subsidies for project development initiated by institutions other than governmental agencies.

Roadmap for discussion for the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (UNCSD)

The United Nations Organization plan

Agenda 21

Global Compact

ICC Anti-corruption policy and business practices:The Anti-Corruption Commission encourages self-regulation by enterprises in confronting issues and provides business input into international initiatives to fight corruption.

Business Objectives for the UN convention against corruption: Monitoring, technical Assistance, and asset recovery.

ICC Rules of conduct and recommendations: Enterprises should establish reasonable controls and procedures; follow-up and promote the rules.

Natural Resouces

The U.S., Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and island states across the Pacific and Caribbean are among those advancing calls for more marine environments to be placed under legal protection, providing sanctuary for threatened species, habitats and ecosystems.

  • Public Health
  • Water

Corporate Sustainability

  • Energy and climate
  • Water and ecosystems
  • Agriculture and food
  • Social development
  • Urbanization and cities
  • Economics and Finance of sustainable development

Visit of Asia-Oceania Ambassadors

Curitiba received the visit of Ambassadors from the Asia-Oceania group last Thursday, March 29th. Their agenda began with a breakfast event at the local trade association (ACP), and we were there to reception the delegation. The visit was coordinated by Mr. Brett Hacket, the Ambassador of Australia in Brazil, followed by the Ambassadors of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand. Each one of their speeches was carefully listened to and the intentions and opportunities of bilateral cooperation between Brazil and each one of these countries are listed below, from the perspective of the foreign Ambassadors.

It is evident that Brazil is becoming a center point for international relations in Latin America, but it is impressive how foreign delegations come with exclusive intentions of selling products and services to Brazil. This is only natural, of course, but from a strategic point of view for the internationalization of markets, it is not sustainable (if this is the correct and convenient word to mention). Not all manufactured products will have opportunities in the Brazilian market (or foreign markets as a whole). Countries have internal industrial capacity themselves. From a broad perspective, countries should not only consider selling products or services, but instead, transfering manufacturing facilities or business units as part of constructing economic complementary strategies for the globalization of international markets.

Australia, Ambassador Brett Hacket:
Mr. Brett Hacket started his speech by stating that “The World has discovered Brazil.” In terms of opportunities for bilateral cooperation between Australia and Brazil, Mr. Hacket outlined Infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture as key sectors. In technology, research and innovation, he believes that the center of bilateral relations must be education. The Australian government has made available one thousand places within their higher education institutions for the program Science without Borders, and this number is foreseen to double within the next couple of months.

Republic of Korea, Ambassador Kyong-Yong KIM:
The Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. Kyong-Yong KIM spoke about the FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) that his country has in the region, as an advantage for business between Brazil and his country, also undergoing negotiation for FTA with Japan and China. The main areas of interest are science and technical, and industrial cooperation. The Minister also mentioned that Brazil is very important in the context of landrace for agriculture.

Philippines, Ambassador Eva G. Betita:
Brazil and the Philippines hold a combined 300 million consumer market for manufacturing trade exchange. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is offered in the Philippines. Vale, a Brazilian company in the mining industry is present in the country for copper and gold extraction. International Terminal Container Services, a company from the Philippines is present in the port of Recife, Brazil. The Ambassador also mentioned how Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) is an experience that has led to governance improvement in her country. She also expressed how the Philippines has shown growing interest in the Brazilian market and made many visits, but the country is still waiting for the return from the Brazilian side.

Indonesia, Ambassador Sudaryomo Hartosudarno:
According to Mr Hartosudarno, Brazil and Indonesia already have significant relations in the tourism sector, because of the inflow of Brazilian tourists in the region, in special visiting Bali. He also outlined the Indonesian industry on Oil Palm and musical instruments as relevant activities from bilateral cooperation.

Malaysia, Ambassador Sudha Devi Vasudevan:
Mrs. Vasudevan mentioned the internal reforms in Malaysia and the cultural similarities between her country and Brazil. She mentioned as relevant sectors for cooperation manufacturing of parts for industry of oil and gas, ICT and multimedia, pharmaceuticals, construction material, palm oil, tourism and education services. Also, Malaysia has FTAs with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and China.

New Zealand, Ambassador Jeffrey Mcalister:
Investments and services are more important for bilateral cooperation between Brazil and New Zealand. The main sectors are agriculture, livestock, dairy, forests, gastronomy and equipment. There is a high flow of Brazilian students to New Zealand, but they wish to put more of these students in high education institutes and not just only for language studies as it is today. For this, NZ is also preparing for the Science without Borders program. Currently, NZ and Brazil are negotiating a revision on their flight schedule, trying to establish a direct flight between both countries. Mr. Mcalister also showed his concerns on the growing of protectionism in Brazil and mentioned that a FTA has been proposed between New Zealand and Australia, and Mercosul.

Thailand, Ambassador Tharit Charungvat:
Thailand is an exporter for rice, rubber, sugar and tapioca, among other products. Relevant sectors is tourism and the airport of Bangkok means possible experience exchange. Thailand has twelve expositions in order to put buyers and sellers together in one place, and has a very attractive currency exchange rate for the Brazilian currency Real.

Follow up on Rio+20 and launch of the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

The United Nations continues its tremendous efforts in keeping the sustainable development governance strategysynchronizedto a global scale. The information in this article was received from the UN Division on Sustainable Development, directed to the major groups. The material is especially interesting for institutions building internal policies and business strategies on Sustainable Development, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Social and Environmental Responsibility. For more information, please read the following:

Rio+20, one of the largest conferences ever convened by the United Nations, ushers in a new era for implementing sustainable development. The Conference was a rare opportunity for the world to focus on sustainability issues – to examine ideas, forge partnerships and solutions.

There were several outcomes to the Rio+20 Conference. The political outcome, The Future We Want, agreed to by all 193 countries, charts the way forward for international cooperation on sustainable development. In addition, governments, businesses and other civil society partners registered more than 700 commitments to concrete actions that will deliver results on the ground to address specific needs, such as sustainable energy and transport.

In the follow-up to Rio+20, a new website has been launched; the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP). The platform contain information pertaining to the past nineteen years of normative and analytical work of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), a wealth of content from the preparatory process of Rio+20, and is the go to place for the Rio+20 follow-up.

More information in the following pages: