n Journal of Public Administration - The etymological context of governance in South African Public Administration : a missing link in reconceptualising the concept for contemporary reality

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The concept of governance has been introduced in the discourse of Public Administration by when the focus of public administration practice was to ensure developmentally-oriented objectives for governments. Society as the custodian of government of the day needs to take charge of how the societal affairs are run to the benefit of its welfare. Interactions that take place within the realm of public administration had to be informed by the polity within a given state through the will of the people in the form of a society. South Africa has managed to form that foundation through the adoption of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic. The democratic foundation of the dispensation after the adoption of the 1996 Constitution is premised on the suffrage of South African people. The people continually contribute in the processes of how the government of the day go about pursuing policies that will realise their developmental oriented objectives through various formations and structures that are within the constitutional ambit the society has adopted as a supreme law. Through those processes and interactions, governance finds its expression beyond a single context. Yet in contemporary reality the concept of governance is loosely applied without drawing its contextual space that befits realities of the day-to-day activities within the society. This article puts forward an argument that the loose application of the concept of governance, without contextualising it to befit the realities of everyday activities within a society, is tantamount to a missing link in reconceptualising it to suite the contemporary reality. The argument is premised on the theoretical framework of complexity in context that contends that interactions remain a factor at a given moment and provide context for a situation that rational theoretical explanations cannot address. That eventually reduces the etymology of governance to be that of a morphogenetic shift with isomorphic characteristics.

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