The governance problematique constitutes a central research focus in contemporary social sciences. Yet, the debate remains centered on an „ideal type“ of the modern nation-state – with full sovereignty and a legitimate monopoly over the use of force. From a global as well as a historical perspective, however, the Western modern nation-state is an exception rather than the rule. Outside the developed world, we fi nd areas of “limited statehood”, from developing and transition countries to „failing“ and „failed states“ in today’s confl ict zones and – historically – in colonial societies. Our Research Center focuses on these areas of limited statehood which lack the capacity to implement and enforce central decisions or even lack the monopoly over the means of violence. We ask: How can eff ective and legitimate governance be sustained in areas of limited statehood? Which problems emerge under these conditions? We assume that “multi-level governance” is the rule in areas of limited statehood, linking the local with the national, regional, and global levels. We also assume that governance in areas of limited statehood involves a variety of public and private actors, such as states, international organizations, fi rms, and civil society. Governance entails negotiations, bargaining, and arguing among these actors rather than hierarchical „command and control“.