Effective public administration in governance often involves a delicate balancing act between multiple critical players during the implementation of public policy and dealing with a crisis. Despite efforts to involve the citizenry as active players in governance, they often choose passivism over active participation or involvement. Emerging trends in governance gravitate towards an increasingly collaborative approach whereby various vital stakeholders such as citizens, public agencies, academia, media, and private organizations play a significant role. Most administrations also seek the collaboration of public administrative agencies and politics within a legal framework while ensuring that citizens retain their state ownership role as clients and partners (Christensen & Lægreid, 2020). The Norwegian government is recognized among the ones that effectively dealt with the crisis occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. This paper will examine a case study on collaborative public administrative strategies applied by Norwegian governance to implement crisis mitigation measures during the Covid -19 pandemic.
Public management approaches during times of crisis tend to succeed when they bring together democratic legitimacy and the capacity of government, as demonstrated by the case study. During the pandemic, the core of democracy of many nations raised pertinent questions on the legitimacy, capacity, and trust of governments (Amsler, 2016). Responsiveness of the Norwegian government and public administration to the citizenry during the crisis was likely to reduce professionalism while promoting political appropriateness to appeal to citizens even when such actions were against the public interest (Vigoda, 2002). The challenge faced was maintaining citizens’ trust while upholding the welfare state and transparency ideals the government of Norway is known for without undermining public interest during the crisis. The government took robust measures during the onset of the crisis and managed to control the spread of covid -19 after just three weeks by executing highly draconian measures collaborated by various public administration agencies (Christensen & Lægreid, 2020).
Norway performed significantly better than most countries in Europe and the US in terms of the rate of spread as well as death rate by the pandemic due to the effective implementation of control measures through a collaborative approach to public administration and governance. Most of the measures taken were similar to those of other nations, but their efficacy during implementation was a notch higher than most developed countries (Tokakis et al., 2019). Norway had challenges in terms of its capacity to deal with the crisis due to a lack of budgetary allocation, health equipment, training facilities, and an operational plan; however, its stable economy ensured quick resource mobilization for mitigating the effects of the pandemic (Wodak, 2021). The public trust and tradition of transparency enjoyed by the government ensured minimal bottlenecks in the government’s budget reviews and resource mobilization efforts. The citizenry also actively participated in ensuring the effective implementation of control measures in partnership with public administrative agencies rather than being passive subjects.
In contrast with countries such as the USA, which applied a confrontational policy-making approach, in Norway, the political elite sought collaboration with professional bodies, public administrative agencies, healthcare experts, and citizenry in a consensus-based manner (Christensen & Lægreid, 2020). Collective guidelines, advice strategies, and compulsory directives enforced by well-crafted possible penalties for noncompliance ensured seamless execution across the country. Before implementing draconian measures such as border closure, the shutdown of businesses, curfew, and isolation measures, the government brought on board the citizenry’s solidarity, trust, and willingness to assist in all ways possible during such an emergency. Arguments by leading health experts and popularizing the ultimate goal of long-term public good helped justify draconian measures that otherwise would have been perceived as illegitimate (Wodak, 2021). Political leadership also balanced openness in the spirit of transparency with short-term information withholding to tame public anxiety.
Therefore, The Norwegian case study shows that effective public administration in governance requires a collaborative approach between citizens, political leadership, and professional bodies during the decision-making, implementation, and evaluation stages of crisis management. Collaboration between crucial players should balance responsiveness, coerciveness, and delegation (Amsler, 2016). In addition, Maintaining public trust, dealing with responsiveness, effective communication, and focusing on the ultimate goal helped the Norwegian government to manage the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
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