Recent studies have highlighted how global concerns such as migration, pandemics and climate changes represent increasingly complex challenges for governance. Such problems are often characterized by an interaction between different events and demands causing ?turbulence? in the form of, for example, increased complexity, uncertainty and time constraints. In such circumstances, governance require a combination and balancing of often contradicting capabilities of such as adaptability, experimentation, innovation, resilience and stability. In this study, we investigate the demands put on governance by such ?turbulence? and develop an understanding of the various factors that impact upon the robustness of governance, public institutions, and collaborative arrangements. Through comparisons of different policy-fields we draw on both past and present knowledge in the effort to understand how the robustness of collaborative governance can be enhanced in the face of present and future challenges.
These themes will be explored through a comparative research design exploring three different policy areas characterized by such turbulence. The three policy areas are further characterized by a multi-leveled governance structure and ?unruly? or ?wicked problems? that often demand co-created solutions and highly specialized competences. The three policy areas are:
? Refugee services
? Pandemic preparedness planning
? Climate change adaptation
Turbulence is a new and promising concept for capturing situations when existing governance arrangements are challenged by the collision of elements such as complex problems, rapid scaling, uncertain problem diagnoses and solutions, and severe time constraints. In turbulent times, the rational linear decision-making model is unlikely to succeed, and standard solutions miss their rapidly moving target. Instead, what is needed is a pragmatic, flexible and scalable problem-solving that will often require the pooling of knowledge and resources from a variety of public and private actors. Growing turbulence calls for robust governance that makes it possible to act swiftly, flexibly and legitimately in response to uncertain and unpredictable situations. This project develops and applies a new theory of robust governance. It seeks to provide proof of concept through empirical studies of local responses and adaptation to refugee streams, pandemics and global warming in Norwegian municipalities. It also develops a tool kit for robust governance of turbulence to be used by practitioners. Given their extensive responsibilities, local governments in Norway provide a good environment for developing new theoretical frameworks for coping with turbulence. Governance responses to the influx of refugees, infectious diseases and climate crisis provide recent, present and persistent experiences that will lend themselves to careful analysis since they are all marked by a high degree of turbulence. Also, the project will examine how disruptive technologies and new digital platforms can enhance (or, potentially, undermine) robust governance. The proposed project is organized in 4 work packages, and will bring together highly competent researchers from different disciplines, draw on state-of-the-art theories and methods, and use innovative dissemination methods that include the development of training programs for local and regional government officials.