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Governance in complex scenarios

Governance in a complex and changing world

New governance methods are needed for the rapidly changing world. This is particularly true in the event of crises and other unexpected events, to ensure that society can continue to function.

In order to better manage future crises and minimise the impact they cause, organisations and society alike need to become more resilient – that is, increase their flexibility and ability to adapt based on what is happening. In turn, this places new demands on governance and the ways in which things are structured.

“One of the most fundamental aspects is about putting more trust in peoples’ abilities and providing them with the opportunity to use these abilities. I would argue that people are extremely resilient but that we are inhibited by being so set in our ways, it is difficult to be creative in a crisis situation if we do not have the opportunity to be creative in everyday life. We therefore need to practice our creativity and ability to adapt, even in everyday life,” says Helene Degerman, RISE researcher on public safety and resilience.

She highlights the importance of elevating issues to an organisational and societal level. Organisations must be just as flexible as the people in them. In her research on resilience, which is still a relatively new field, she has, among other things, focused on the challenges experienced by the public sector when it comes to adapting.
 

“One of my conclusions is that political governance and relatively rapid changes to business objectives mean that it is sometimes difficult for public sector organisations to know their objectives. This is particularly true the further up in the organisation you go, while those working on operations often have clearer objectives that do not change in the same way. Since objectives may differ at different levels, it is also important to have an understanding of the different objectives within the organisation,” Degerman explains.

Climate threats and pandemics do not take territorial boundaries into account

Cross-border collaboration

Collaboration is another important factor. Kerstin Eriksson, who also conducts resilience research at RISE, notes that collaboration between local authorities, voluntary organisations and other parties was crucial in the local authorities’ management of the major forest fires in 2018. This is also the case on a global level.
 

“Climate threats and pandemics do not take territorial boundaries into account. This means that, in order to solve the challenge together, we need to collaborate on a global level, rather than competing with each other,” Degerman says.

To start with, however, it may be necessary to take a closer look at structures and adaptability within our own organisations. And not how we think they are, but how they actually are in reality.

“These are some of the things we can help you study at RISE. We can also help with attitudes, procedures and governance. Governing based on resilience requires a completely different mindset to classic governance,” Degerman concludes.

Published: 2021-10-19
Helene Degerman

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Helene Degerman

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Kerstin Eriksson

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