The GOVCAP-project studied the organization of government arrangements for crisis management in five countries (Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany), and looked at citizens perceptions of and attitudes towards the government and public sector governance capacity for crisis management.
By studying specific crises in different countries, the project found that assessment and perceptions of capacity and crisis management varies with context. National institutions and administrative context matters. Experiences with different types of crises also varies and impacts on the organization of crisis management. This leads to diverse systems and tools for crisis management. There is no best practice, and many different solutions are put to use. A commonality is, however, that legitimacy and trust in government institutions and their ability to deal with crises is important for governance capacity in a crisis.
The results of the project have been achieved through a successful international collaboration between leading academic scholars within public administration, public policy and crisis management.
Project webpage: http://rokkan.uni.no/sites/govcap/
The effects of the project are related to lessons learned. Effective inter-organizational coordination is crucial. Transboundary networks are established in the shadow of hierarchy. They enable and constrain crisis management. Regime maintenance prevails over change. Adaptation to national context and specificities of crises is typical. Institutional complexity is a limiting factor. The combination of networks and hierarchy needs development. Planning has limited value in transboundary crises and needs to be adjusted when a new crisis unfolds. Transboundary crises need coherent cross-level preparedness and crisis management, and better multi-level governance systems. Concerning governance legitimacy, technical decisions may have far-reaching political implications, and strategic priorities must be translated into specific guidelines. Failed meaning-making can have serious consequences for the legitimacy of political executives.
The project studies governance capacity and governance legitimacy for societal security and crisis management. The overall research question is: What makes a well performing governmental crisis management system? A well performing administrative structure needs both organizational capacity and legitimacy. The project examines the organization and coordination of government apparatuses; and the public perceptions and attitudes toward societal security, safety and resilience. The trade-off between the capac ity for resilience and for emergency preparedness and between societal security and individual rights are central.
There is a need of unpacking the field of societal security and crisis management into different types of management situations and crises . There are significant variations across types of crises, for example between natural disasters and terrorism. What is considered exemplary and acceptable capacity and performance may vary. We explore why some cases are considered successful, while other s are not, across different countries and cases.
The two sets of questions are examined through two interrelated research modules. Module 1 analyzes governance capacity, looking at the structure and performance of government authorities and instruments within the field. A main assumption is that organization and use of different governance tools will affect performance. Module 2 considers governance legitimacy. It analyzes trust in government arrangements for crisis management and societal security, an d public assessment of the governments' performance.
Being based on collaboration within a international academic research network the project has a strong focus on internationalization and a comparative design, and includes data from six European count ries: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.