Organizing for Societal Security and Crisis Management: Building Governance Capacity and Legitimacy (GOVCAP)

Project Department: Uni Research Rokkan Centre (group: Democracy, Civil Society and Public Administration) period: 01.09.14 - 31.08.18

Project results

The GOVCAP-project studied the organization of government arrangements for crisis management in five countries (Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany), and
looked at citizens perceptions of and attitudes towards the government and public sector governance capacity for crisis management.

By studying specific crises in different countries, the project found that assessment and perceptions of capacity and crisis management varies with context. National institutions and
administrative context matters. Experiences with different types of crises also varies and impacts on the organization of crisis management. This leads to diverse systems and tools for crisis management. 

There is no best practice, and many different solutions are put to use. A commonality is, however, that legitimacy and trust in government institutions and their ability to deal with crises is important for governance capacity in a crisis.

The results of the project have been achieved through a successful international collaboration between leading academic scholars within public administration, public policy and crisis management.

Interview with Per Lægreid (in Norwegian) about the project.  

About the project in Stat og Styring (in Norwegian).

More on the project website.

About the project

The project studies governance capacity and governance legitimacy for societal security and crisis management.

The overall research question is: What makes a well performing governmental crisis management system? A well performing administrative structure needs both organizational capacity and legitimacy.

The project examines the organization and coordination of government apparatuses; and the public perceptions and attitudes toward societal security, safety and resilience.

The trade-off between the capacity for resilience and for emergency preparedness and between societal security and individual rights are central. There is a need of unpacking the field of societal security and crisis management into different types of management situations and crises.

There are significant variations across types of crises, for example between natural disasters and terrorism. What is considered exemplary and acceptable capacity and performance may vary. We explore why some cases are considered successful, while others are not, across different countries and cases.

The two sets of questions are examined through two interrelated research modules.

Module 1 analyzes governance capacity, looking at the structure and performance of government authorities and instruments within the field. A main assumption is that organization and use of different governance tools will affect performance.

Module 2 considers governance legitimacy. It analyzes trust in government arrangements for crisis management and societal security, and public assessment of the governments' performance.

Being based on collaboration within a international academic research network the project has a strong focus on internationalization and a comparative design, and includes data from six European countries: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.

More information of the project

Funding source: The Norwegian Research Council



All articles


All books


  • Rubecksen, Kristin; Førde, Johannes Sandvik; Lægreid, Per; Rykkja, Lise H. Organizing for societal security and crisis management in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.. I: Societal Security and Crisis Management. Governance Capacity and Legitimacy. Palgrave Macmillan 2018 ISBN 978-3-319-92302-4.. pages 22-51
  • Jensen, Susan B.; Lægreid, Per; Rykkja, Lise H. Changes in the Norwegian Central Crisis Management After the Terrorist Attacks in 2011. I: Societal Security and Crisis Management. Governance Capacity and Legitimacy. Palgrave Macmillan 2018 ISBN 978-3-319-92302-4.. pages 205-223
All book chapters
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