P23 Robust Governance in Turbulent Times

Corresponding chair

Professor Jacob Torfing, Department of Social Science and Business, Roskilde University, Denmark. jtor@ruc.dk

Review group chair

Professor Tiina Randma-Liiv, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. 

Turbulence became a scientific concept in fluid mechanics at the beginning of the 20th century but has recently entered the vocabulary of a broad range of scientific disciplines including the social sciences.

A generic concept of turbulence covering most scientific disciplines defines turbulence as a more or less enduring situation characterized by unpredictable and unsteady dynamics arising from the interaction between highly variable, inconsistent, and unexpected flows. As such, turbulence arises when separate flows, which themselves change in irregular ways, interact and produce a disorderly, unpredictable, and mutable dynamic (Ansell, Trondal and Øgård, 2017). In a social science context, we can define turbulence as a situation where cascading and interrelated social, natural, economic, and political events, demands and developments unexpectedly create unpredictable temporal dynamics that jeopardize the preservation of core functions, goals, and values of society and/or particular sectors of society. Hence, what the concept of turbulence adds to the notion of ‘wicked problems’ is a temporal dimension of variability and unpredictability that raises the stakes for public governors who must deal with societal turmoil in a situation with short response times and a high degree of uncertainty.

New research argues that the rise of crisis-induced societal turbulence calls for robust governance. Robust governance provides an alternative to both resilience and agility by stressing the need to maintain some degree of stability through change. Robustness can be defined generically as the ability to uphold a particular function, goal, or value in a turbulent environment by means of flexible adaptation and/or proactive innovation. Robust governance is defined as the ability to ensure the formulation and implementation of effective and legitimate public value solutions in response to heightened turbulence through the adaptation and innovation of public policy, regulation, and service production. In the wake of the recent tsunami of crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial crisis, the refugee crisis, the inflation crisis, the climate crisis etc. the demand for robust governance has drastically increased prompting public administration scholars to reorient their research.

To better understand the conditions and impact of robust governance in turbulent times, we welcome empirical and theoretical papers from both senior and junior researchers. Papers may focus on, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Analysis of the rise and impact of societal turbulence
  • Exploration of the relation between crisis and turbulence
  • Studies of robust governance of the heightened turbulence in the wake of a variety of crises: financial, refugee, COVID-19, inflation, etc.
  • Investigation of the role of hybridity on governance, multi-level and multi-actor governance and negotiated societal intelligence in fostering robust governance response to crisis-induced turbulence
  • The role of public, private and civic actors in catalyzing robust governance
  • The papers may address local, regional, national or supranational levels of government
  • Assessment of the role and impact of robust governance

The panel format will be fairly standard with short paper presentations followed by comments from discussants and open plenary discussions. Paper givers are expected to read the other papers within the panel and will be invited to comment on them.