Resilient governance

Willem Trommel 
Which factors, from a local to an international level, influence societal and governmental resilience? To what extent do governance systems themselves influence the resilience of society? Can societal resilience be governed effectively? 

Willem Trommel, Theme leader Resilient Governance
Governance refers to the ways in which societies aim to create sustainable answers to their social problems and needs. Current societal problems, however, have become extremely complex, since they increasingly arise from a globalized and highly dynamic social context. Contemporary societies seem to have entered a stage of radical change, involving major crises and shocks;  a fundamental transition of which the ‘governability’ is not self-evident. Furthermore, this growing ‘fluidization’ of  social structures and cultural belief systems also affects the governance system itself. Political and administrative capacities destabilize, their legitimacy is weakening, levels of trust are decreasing. To what extent are our public authorities able to react adequately to such disruptions of the social system? And to what extent and under which circumstances can a society bounce back, adapt to the new situation and better equip itself to withstand future challenges.

Within the theme Resilient Governance we examine on a local, national and international level which factors influence the societal and governmental resilience and to what extent governmental systems themselves have an impact on societal resilience. Our conceptual explorations focus both on the dubious nature of societal resilience as on the promising nature of resilient governance. We take this approach as the desirability of a resilient social system is debatable, especially if one considers the apartheid regime in South Africa. 

Relevant research questions

  • What does citizenship under conditions of resilient governance entail and how to promote resilient citizenship?
  • Resilient governance refers to specific involvement of communities in the control of society. Which communities are we referring to? How to shape this involvement? Which processes, competencies and values are important?
  • How do we arrive at a state of governance that can strengthen the resilience of societies, especially at times of transition? How do we ensure administrative power itself is resilient enough to weather the storms of change? What values and institutional arrangements are crucial?


Willem Trommel, Theme leader Resilient Governance