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 fiercely 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.


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

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:

Drawback Regime for manufacturing exports in Brazil

The Drawback Regime was created in 1996 by the Brazilian government with the purpose of suspending import taxes of raw material intended to the manufacturing of exporting goods. Legislation has improved over time and today the regime can also be applied to raw material bought within the domestic market, as long as the production is bound to exports.

Tax suspension is applied to the following taxes: Import Taxation (II); Industrialized Product Taxation (IPI); Contributions to the Social Inclusion Program, Formation of Public Servant Patrimony and Social Security Financing (PIS/Pasep/Cofins); Additional Freight for the Renewal of the Merchant Navy (AFRMM); and Circulation of Goods and Services Taxation (ICMS).

In order to adopt the Drawback Regime, the company needs to be licensed for international trade operations (Radar) by the Brazilian Federal Reserve and file a request within SECEX (Federal Secretariat of International Trade),assuming the commitment of exporting production after transforming the raw material which is to be applied to the program. SECEX will then authorize the purchase of the raw material either from the domestic or foreign markets. This operation is registered through SISCOMEX, the Brazilian Integrated International Trade System utilized for all national import/export operations control.

The Drawback tax exemption regime may be applied to product transformation, processing, assembly and renovation or refurbishing of exports from any economic segment. Company may also file a request to purchase tax exempt raw material that is intended to replace inventory that has been used for the production of previously exported goods. The company benefiting from the regime may not necessarily be the company exporting the product, whereas it can be exported by an intermediary company such as a trading company or another manufacturing company that has used the product for further complex production.

More information can be found through the following links: