The GREMLIN project aims to investigate multistakeholderism in regional and global governance. It examines two different policy areas where multistakeholderism has become a defining norm: internet and trade governance. Questions of legitimacy and effectiveness are key to debates on multistakeholderism and thus are also central to the theoretical framework of the project. GREMLIN brings together researchers from the IES and the Centre for European Union Studies (CEUS) at the University of Ghent in a project that will produce two PhDs, several policy briefs and a workshop on ‘building better multistakeholderism’ at its end.
In the initial phase of the project, a joint theoretical framework will be established. The investigation will focus on questions of effectiveness and legitimacy of a multistakeholder process, as well as the interplay between regional and global processes, asking ‘under which conditions does multistakeholderism improve the outcome of regional and global policy processes?’ The purpose is to develop an analytical framework that will ‘unpack’ the contested and vague application of multistakeholderism in both theoretical debates and practical application.
Subsequently, the project will proceed to analyzing two empirical areas where multistakeholderism has emerged as an important governance component already since the early 2000s and has accelerated in recent years: trade and internet governance. Internet and trade governance make interesting cases for comparison as they have not only similarities but also some key differences. While trade is a ‘traditional’ policy area where governance builds on existing institutions (path-dependencies), ‘internet’ is a new policy area which allows for more flexibility in governance. Also, the nature and number of actors involved in (regional) multistakeholder mechanisms, as well as procedural and organisational issues seem to differ. Thus, not only are these areas important in and of themselves, but also comparison of the two policy fields will offer valuable insights for refining theoretical thinking on multistakeholderism. To provide the project with an initial focus, we will concentrate on the role of the European Union (EU), one of the architects of the new global institutional framework.
The main output of the project will consist of two PhD dissertations – one on internet governance and one on trade governance. The dissertations will be developed under close supervision of Prof. Dr. Jamal Shahin (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies) and Prof. Dr. Jan Orbie (Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University).
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