The Pursuit of Governance

Nordic Dispatches on a New Middle Way

Fabrizio Tassinari

£65.00  |  $95.00
ISBN 9781788214001
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788214018
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788214025
200 pages   |  216 x 138mm   |  18 November 2021


"The Pursuit of Governance brims with insights on a wide range of subjects, from labor relations to bureaucratic peculiarities to cultural differences. Most important is Tassinari's grasp of 'the middle way' as a process more than an ideology, almost like a dance with agreed steps that create a larger pattern. The book opens up a new set of governance possibilities." – Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emeritus of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

"The Nordics are regular features in the top-10 of most global rankings ranging from equality to prosperity and happiness to trust. Fabrizio Tassinari’s book is a must for anyone who wants to understand how and why the Nordic model of governance works. Rare are those who can tell a vivid story and frame it in a useful context. This book does both." – Alexander Stubb, Former Prime Minister of Finland

"All logic tells us that the health of democratic societies during the twenty-first century will rest on their joint endeavours. Not even the strongest of nations can tackle on their own seismic challenges presented by such things as climate change and pandemics. But just as the problems demand multilateral solutions, populism is rising and nations are throwing up barriers in the name of an illusory 'security'. What is needed, says Fabrizio Tassinari in this excellent book, is a new middle way that meets the legitimate local concerns of citizens while legitimising the collective endeavours essential to assure global stability and prosperity. Tassinari does not pretend to have all the answers, but his book offers an essential route map for anyone interested in ensuring we do not fall into a new world disorder."  – Philip Stephens, contributing editor, Financial Times

“Fabrizio Tassinari has written a fascinating book, admirable for its clarity and elegance. His argument that the only way to successfully imitate the Nordic model is to experiment like Nordics is of great importance." – Ivan Krastev, Chair, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia and Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, IWM Vienna

"Fabrizio Tassinari’s brilliant book ... unfolds like a dazzling travelogue through a vast landscape across time and space ... while offering a sophisticated social scientific deep dive into the great Scandinavian balancing act between liberty and security, elitism and redistributive zeal, openness and tribal instincts. With the sharpness of his southern gaze, Tassinari immerses us at the heart of a Nordic ‘conversation’ which speaks to our global predicament, and in the process offers a vision of a possible world where technocrats and populists, Italians and Danes, our pasts and our futures meet with renewed grace under the shadow of these great pioneers. An absolute must read." – Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Chair in International Affairs, School of Transnational Governance, EUI

"Fabrizio Tassinari has identified the key challenge of the coming decades: how to establish an institutional equilibrium between democracy and technocracy ... Riffing off the 'middle way' of the Nordic nations between communism and capitalism in the last century chronicled by the legendary Marquis Childs, Tassinari proposes a middle way for our time ... Since governance is the way open societies make their choices about the future, our capacity to meet all other challenges from the disruptions of the digital revolution to climate change to pandemics, rests on getting that right." – Nathan Gardels, Editor-in-Chief, Noema Magazine and co-founder, Berggruen Institute


Although there is no overt ideological battle in the twenty-first century, citizens in every latitude register growing dissatisfaction with the results delivered by their governments. In the West they increasingly turn to populist forces to seek an easy respite to the frustration caused by the failures of democracy. Other models of governance, such as China’s "autocratic capitalism", rest on technocratic command and control methods that are disdained in the West but whose global appeal is growing mostly due to their perceived ability to deliver. No matter how and where they are practised, these alternatives seem to offer only partial and unsatisfactory answers to increasingly complex questions of governance. In a world ravaged by pandemics and climate crises, migration flows and cyberwars, rigid rule-making imparted from above or populist over-simplifications brewing from below can only represent the extremes of a more sophisticated picture of governing processes.

In this book, Fabrizio Tassinari seeks to rediscover the methods, practices and limits of good governance. By taking inspiration from the Nordic region, where democratic governance has delivered some of its most impressive feats, he shows that populism and technocracy are not the causes of our political malaise; they represent skewed by-products of the most basic instincts in our body politic. They need not be suppressed but channelled and reconciled in our practices of governing.


Introduction: the pioneers
1. From Singapore to Sacramento: a method of governance
2. It takes an island: the sources of governance
3. The crystal curtain: a culture of governance
4. Hail to the mandarins: the scaffolding of governance
5. The good disorder: the limits to governance
6. A transnational world: the practice of governance
Conclusion: the new middle way

Author Information

Fabrizio Tassinari is Executive Director of the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute. He previously served as head of foreign policy studies at the Danish Institute for International Studies, the Danish government's independent research institution on foreign affairs.

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