Governance refers to "all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization, or territory, and whether through laws, norms, power, or language."
It relates to processes and decisions that seek to define actions, grant power, and verify performance.
In general terms, governance occurs in three broad ways:
Through networks involving public-private partnerships (PPP) or with the collaboration of community organisations;
Through the use of market mechanisms whereby market principles of competition serve to allocate resources while operating under government regulation;
Through top-down methods that primarily involve governments and the state bureaucracy.
To distinguish the term governance from government: "governance" is the concrete activity that reproduces a formal or informal organization.
If the organization is a formal one, governance is primarily about what the relevant "governing body" does.
If the organization is an informal one, such as a market, governance is primarily about the rules and norms that guide the relevant activity.
Whether the organization is a geo-political entity (nation-state), a corporate entity (business entity), a socio-political entity (chiefdom, tribe, family, etc.), or an informal one, its governance is the way the rules and actions are produced, sustained, and regulated.