Governance is all of the processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization or territoryand whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society. It relates to "the processes of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions."
A variety of entities (known generically as governing bodies) can govern. The most formal is a government, a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a given geopolitical system (such as a state) by establishing laws. Other types of governing include an organization (such as a corporation recognized as a legal entity by a government), a socio-political group (chiefdom, tribe, family, religious denomination, etc.), or another, informal group of people. In business and outsourcing relationships, governance frameworks are built into relational contracts that foster long-term collaboration and innovation. Poor governance can lead to contract failure.
Governance is the way the rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained, regulated and held accountable. The degree of formality depends on the internal rules of a given organization and, externally, with its business partners. As such, governance may take many forms, driven by many different motivations and with many different results. For instance, a government may operate as a democracy where citizens vote on who should govern and the public good is the goal, while a non-profit organization may be governed by a small board of directors and pursue more specific aims.