Indicators as a Technology of Global Governance

Kevin E. Davis, Benedict Kingsbury, Sally Engle Merry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The use of indicators is a prominent feature of contemporary global governance. Indicators are used to compare and rank states for purposes as varied as deciding how to allocate foreign aid or investment and determining whether states have complied with their treaty obligations. This article defines the concept of an indicator, analyzes distinctive features of indicators as technologies of governance, and identifies various ways in which the use of indicators has the potential to alter the topology and dynamics of global governance. Particular attention is paid to how indicators can affect processes of standard setting, decisionmaking, and contestation in global governance. The World Bank Doing Business indicators and the United Nations Human Development Index are analyzed as case studies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)71-104
    Number of pages34
    JournalLaw and Society Review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Law


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