Governance of any organization, including an individual support group, determines who has power, who makes decisions, how players make their voices heard and how to ensure accountability.
Many support groups online are in different stages of getting organized. Some form legal organizations, and others do not. A group needs to have processes, structures, traditions and rules in place so it can:
- determine who is a member of the group
- decide who has power, and over what
- ensure that power is exercised properly
- make and enforce decisions
- hold decision-makers accountable
- negotiate with others regarding their rights and interests
- establish the most effective and legitimate arrangements for getting those things done
There are a thousand reasons why governance is important to online peer support groups. Here are the top 3.
The Evidence + Advanced Reading
1. Principles of effective governance for sustainable development
This report was created by the UN to articulate a set of eight principles of good governance, which The Light Collective has adopted and slightly modified for our the unique needs of online health communities.
2. Lawless: The Secret Rules that Govern Our Digital Lives
Social media platforms, search engines, and other technology companies influence what we can see and say online. These giant companies govern our behavior online without real accountability, and they are at the center of fierce battles between governments, lobby groups, the media, and grassroots campaigns from activists.
3. Elinor Ostrom’s 8 Principles for governing shared resources
Elinor Ostrom won a nobel prize in economics for her work on to study how to manage resources that are considered by a community. While Ostrom’s work looked at natural resources and farming, the principles she developed uniquely apply to shared data resources and knowledge generated by support groups online.