4.2. Hierarchical

To suggest that a governance network should be structured along hierarchical lines might hardly seem worth considering, in light of the conclusion already reached that its structure should concord with the architectural values of the Internet. But there are three reasons why this option should be in fact be considered.

First and most fundamentally, it should be recalled that the appropriate internal organisational structure for a governance network is a conceptually separate issue from the given fact that it must be inclusive of three separate stakeholder groups in its operation as a network. No structure that fails to adequately accommodate multi-stakeholderism can be considered for a governance network such as the IGF, whether it is hierarchical or otherwise—but the extent to which it does so should not be prejudged.

Second, but similarly, the adoption of an hierarchical structure for a governance network leaves open the question of how, and by whom, the structure would be established, as it cannot hoist itself into being by its own bootstraps (unless it could do so by force). There would have to be an existing organisation superior to, or at least preceding, the governance network, by which it was formed. That organisation need not itself necessarily be organised along hierarchical lines, but could emerge by a consensual process involving all stakeholders (as, supposedly, ICANN emerged from the IFWP).

The third reason why the hierarchical option for the form of a governance network should not be discounted is that in the present context, it is not to be taken as implying authoritarianism, but simply top–down ordering, which includes forms such as bureaucracy, oligarchy and meritocracy. These will be examined in turn, before discussion turns to some examples of these forms of structure in domestic politics (including the case of co-regulation mentioned above), and in Internet governance.