Breaking Bad – Exploring the Dark Side

Understanding undesirable trajectories of collective action

Polycentric systems of governance can have many desirable effects, but some trajectories of collective action sequences may:

  • trap societies into negative syndromes of ill-governance that institutionalize gross inequities in power,
  • permit private actors to twist public authority to promote their own interests,
  • encourage the rise of authoritarian or technocratic variants, or
  • enable powerful actors to disguise their intentions through administrative burdens that further aggravate the overwhelming complexity of public programs.

Factors that lead to several such syndromes are outlined, along with countervailing forces that might be effectively deployed by system stewards to redirect that society back towards a more desirable mode of governance.

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References and bibliography

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