Monday, October 19, 2009

State and Non-state actors collaborating in a Network-centric World

David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla bring an interesting concept in their reading, “The emergence of noopolitik”. Noopolitik as they describe is an approach to statecraft “that emphasizes the role of informational soft power in expressing ideas, values, norms, and ethics through all manner of media”. It focuses on the collaboration of state and non-state actors working together, neither having more power than the other instead working to create a network-centric world.

The authors mention that in the Noopolitik approach does not concentrate on power, instead it focuses on the sharing of knowledge. They mention the importance NGOs or civil society actors are to the approach, how these types of organizations are already building transnational networks and coalitions, and that governments should learn how to work with them. Ronfeldt and Arquilla tell us that to be able to apply an effective Noopolitik approach we have to create a noosphere and that this sphere would include: “openness, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, humane behavior, respect for human rights, a preference for peaceful conflict resolution, etc”.

This article sounded very similar to a book I finished reading this past weekend for another class, it was called “Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits can tackle today’s Global Challenges Together” by: Mark Gerencser, Reginald Van Lee, Fernando Napolitano, and Christopher Kelly. The authors of the book describe an cross-sector approach called megacommunity, which is a public sphere in which government, business and civil society work together on issues of mutual importance (e.g. climate change, natural disasters, health care, and conservation issues) to achieve results. Their central focus is that problems as big as climate change or natural disasters, are issues that cannot be resolved by an organization alone. Although it is difficult for the three sectors to work together, in the end the result is a solution that could not have been reached with the collaboration of all the participating organizations.

Both approaches, the megacommunity and noopolitik, are similar in many ways, such as: the collaboration the idea that everyone should have a voice (state and non-state actors) and the importance of networks, creating and maintaining them. The difference is that the noopolitik is a statecraft approach and the megacommunity is an approach to tackle big problems that might be affecting a country, region, or even an issue that has a global effect.

I think we can see how the future will be centered on collaborations, alliances, and networks. Both of these readings focus on just that, government and non-government actors working together to achieve mutual goals, because in the end the decisions made by both affect the population in some way, some more than others. Also the idea that eventually power will not be the main focus that instead the sharing of knowledge will become the focal point is a very interesting statement and I hope to see at work in the nearby future.

1 comment:

  1. That was interesting to see a different but similar take on the concept, Nikole. It seems the prevailing theory, although described by different words, is that we need to learn how to share power and increase the role of non-state actors. Whether you call that noopolitik or megacommunity, it seems to be a positive (if not idealistic) way of trying to tackle these global issues.