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Governing Turbulence: An Organizational- Institutional Agenda

Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, 1(1), 2018


Christopher Ansell, Jarle Trondal


This article sets out three ambitions: First, it argues in favor of adopting “turbulence” as a conceptual device for understanding governance in times of dynamic interactive change. Second, the article distinguishes three types of turbulence: turbulent environments, turbulent organizations and turbulence of scale. These three types highlight different sources and dynamics of turbulence. Third, the article outlines an organizational-institutional approach to the governance of turbulence highlighting four key dilemmas public organizations must confront in stabilizing and adapting to turbulence: stability versus adaptation; anticipation versus resilience; tight(er) coupling versus decoupling; and integration versus differentiation. The article then synthesizes findings and arguments about how public organizations can manage these dilemmas.