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DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning

Coordination, Capacity and Legitimacy: Organizing for Climate Change, Immigration and the Police

Alternative title: Koordinering, kapasitet og legitimitet: Organisering for klimaendringer, innvandring og politi

Awarded: NOK 9.4 mill.

COCAL set out to investigate coordination between different organizational entities of government, particularly at the central-administrative level. The idea was to delineate the connection between governance capacity and legitimacy in political landscapes characterized by a presence of so-called ?wicked problems?. The project mainly focused on the policy fields of immigration, police and climate in two countries (Norway and Sweden), although including examples from other sectors and other countries. The project departed from the argument that institutional, contextual features at the level of country, sector and field system affect coordination practices and thereby governance capacity and legitimacy. The term coordination is ambiguous, as is the concept of wicked problems. COCAL directed substantial efforts towards how we should understand and envision these two concepts, as they are both in common and frequent use in scholarly and practical discourse. The three year-project entailed a three-stage approach, reflected in the activities of the project throughout the project period. The first year, we particularly focused on establishing the specific characteristics of each policy area in terms of the wicked problems approach. The second year?s main activities were related to data collection: the mapping of the three areas, and subsequently, conducting interviews and supplementary data collection. The third and final year saw a focus on analysis, writing and publication ? several articles are now in the pipeline, in addition to those already published. The three sectors or policy areas are all ridden with tension. For public safety, this concerns a balance between preparedness on the one hand, and activities and services of "everyday policing" on the other. In the immigration area, there is a tension between controlling immigration and engaging efforts to improve integration, while the climate field is marked by the distinction between climate adaptation and mitigation of GHGs as well as the problem of connecting global and local scales of policy design and implementation. A joint characteristic of the three fields is that the balance between centralization and decentralization cannot be easily resolved. Another common feature that keeps surfacing in our material is that in managing and coordinating wicked problems such as these, it seems improving and building analytical capacity - the ability to collect, analyze and give advice based on knowledge - is prioritized as an active strategy in attempting to delineate problems, reduce uncertainties and establish legitimacy for choosing specific policy measures. In all three fields, this focus on knowledge is actively used as a coordination measure, although it may come with considerable uncertainty. A typical problem encountered in the governance of wicked policy areas, is a mismatch between problem structure and organizational structure. Typically, the tasks to be resolved do not rest within the boundaries of a single organization or a sectorial silo. This suggests decision-makers should take into consideration the task at hand, and the contexts in which governance takes place. Moreover, the reliance on analytical capacity mentioned above entails a focus on the political decisions and power embedded in deciding about knowledge, as well as understanding how a pluralistic public system supplies diverse and fragmented input to, and framing of, governance. A reoccurring problem with coordinated measures cutting across silos, levels and boundaries, is that they tend to confuse the relevant notions of accountability. Even in such well-organized systems as Norway and Sweden, this may pose legitimacy challenges. Finally, one may claim that the choices about coordination of governance efforts are also choices about wickedness. The political-administrative system does indeed produce complexities and fragmentation, divergence and uncertainty. Part of the resolve of wicked problems, thus, is also resolving the issues that rest with governance, not just the properties of the problems themselves.

En viktig innsikt er at kunnskap er en viktig innsatsfaktor for styringskapasitet og styringslegitimitet. Dette reiser spørsmål om hvorvidt organisasjonsformer og praksiser endrer seg i takt med synet på kunnskap som en faktor i styring. Forskningen i COCAL viser også et behov for mer kunnskap om hvordan organisering av offentlig sektor fungerer som en innsatsfaktor for omstilling i samfunnet, kanskje særlig på klimafeltet. Dette feltet er fragmentert og komplekst, f.eks. der omstilling, utslippsreduksjon og klimatilpasning tangerer andre politikkfelt. Vi forventer at COCAL-arbeid danner utgangspunkt for nye, større forskningsprosjekter. For forvaltningen er det lærdom å hente fra både analysene av politikkutfordringer som krever koordineringsinnsats, og analysene av selve koordineringsinnsatsen. Vi kan imidlertid verken dokumentere eller forvente at dette er kunnskap som får direkte anvendelse, men bidrar selvsagt til formidling og innspill der det er naturlig.

COCAL is an international comparative project that investigates public sector coordination practices and their implications for governance capacity and legitimacy in policy sectors that deal with 'wicked problems'. COCAL highlights the importance of organizational capacity by studying the coordination of public resources, decision-making systems and governance tools, and underscores the relevance of governance legitimacy by examining the relevance of public perceptions, attitudes and trust relations towards coordination arrangements. The core argument is that institutional context features at country- and sector-level affect organizational capacity and legitimacy. 'Wicked problems' are highly complex and ambiguous policy challenges that cannot be solved within one sector or one administrative level alone. They typically require coordination between different actors, organizations and administrative levels. COCAL examines organizational policy tools, governance capacity, legitimacy and modes of steering in complex, multilevel settings focusing on three policy areas: Climate change, immigration and the police. It studies the extent and content of novel forms of coordination within these policy areas, the drivers behind such practices, how they function in practice, and their effects on capacity and legitimacy. The project provides sector-specific analyses as well as cross-sectoral comparisons, contrasting Norway primarily with Sweden but also other countries for selected areas. The main research question is: What characterizes novel coordination measures in wicked policy areas, how do we explain them, and what are the consequences of introducing such coordination tools alongside existing coordination means for governance capacity and legitimacy?

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning