Governance capabilities to deal with wicked problems

Published on
December 13, 2012

In an article by Katrien Termeer, Art Dewulf, Gerard Breeman and Sabina Stiller (accepted for publication in Administration and Society), the fundamentals of four different governance capabilities are laid out, which in their combination provide a varied set of lenses and action repertoires to cope with wicked problems.

Governance capabilities to deal with wicked problems (like climate change or sustainable food production) are a keystone of the research programme of the Public Administration and Policy group on "Changing governance, governing change". The key question is about different approaches to observing and understanding wicked problems, different repertoires of action strategies, and the conditions that are needed to enable the action strategies.

This is the abstract of the article:

"This article explores an integrative approach for dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems not only require alternative action strategies, but also alternative ways of observing and enabling. Four governance capabilities are essential:

  • (1) reflexivity, or the capability to deal with multiple frames;
  • (2) resilience, or the capability to adjust actions to uncertain changes;
  • (3) responsiveness, or the capability to respond to changing agendas and expectations;
  • (4) revitalization, or the capability to unblock stagnations. 

These capabilities form the basis for achieving small wins in wicked problems. We illustrate our argument with examples from sustainable food production of the Common Agricultural Policy".