These case studies are part of a globally coordinated, independent academic research pilot project by the Global Network of Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC). Facilitated by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this study examines existing multistakeholder governance groups with the goal of informing the future evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. Building upon the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap, it contributes to current policy debates at the international level, including the Internet Governance Forum, the NETmundial Initiative, and other organizations and efforts.

Internet governance is an increasingly complex concept that operates at multiple levels and in different dimensions, making it necessary to have a better understanding of both how multistakeholder governance groups operate and how they best achieve their goals. With this need in mind, at a point where the future of Internet governance is being re-envisioned, colleagues from several NoC institutions around the world have written twelve case studies examining a geographically and topically diverse set of local, national, and international governance models, components, and mechanisms from within and outside of the sphere of Internet governance. Key findings from these cases are summarized in a synthesis paper, which aims to deepen our understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups and even challenge conventional thinking.

The research, based on twelve case studies, suggests that there is no single best-fit model for multistakeholder governance groups that can be applied in all situations. Rather, it reveals a range of approaches, mechanisms, and tools available for both the formation and operation of such groups. The analysis demonstrates that the success of governance groups depends to a large degree on the careful selection, deployment, and management of suitable instruments from this “toolbox.” As governance groups pass through different phases of operation, conveners and facilitators must remain alert to changes in circumstances that necessitate adjustments to the approaches, mechanisms, and tools that they deploy in order to address evolving challenges from inside and outside. These case studies provide insights into how those instruments can be deployed and adjusted over time within such groups, and highlight how their interactions with important contextual factors may be successfully managed within given resource restraints.

The research effort is grounded in a diversity of global perspectives and collaborative research techniques. Adhering to objective and independent academic standards, it aspires to be useful, actionable, and timely for policymakers and stakeholders. More broadly, the Network of Centers seeks to contribute to a more generalized vision and longer-term strategy for academia regarding its roles in research, facilitation and convening, and education in and communication about the Internet age.

For additional information on the initiative, please contact Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, at

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