With lasting and unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, political efforts and public administration are no less crucial than science-guided efforts in virus response, according to an essay that has been published inThe American Review of Public Administration, one of the elite scholarly peer-reviewed journals in public administration and public affairs.
Entitled "Interactive Governance Between and Within Governmental Levels and Functions" and taking China's response to COVID-19 as an example, the essay applies social network analysis to illustrate interactive governance between and within levels and functions of government and enhances understanding how multi-level governance systems respond to the public health crisis. The essay was co-authored by Yao Dongmin, Li Jing, Chen Yijing, Gao Qiunan and Yan Wenhong, all scholars from Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China.
The study is one of the first to summarize the interaction patterns in a multi-level setting, providing practical implications for which pattern should be applied to which governmental levels/functions under what kind of pandemic condition.
Discussing four interaction patterns, namely vertical, inter-functional, intra-functional, and hybrid, the essay offers explanation of the four patterns -- the vertical pattern ensures the uniform “top-down” management of departments across government levels; the inter-and intra-functional patterns strengthen same-level collaboration and supervision; and the hybrid pattern brings together conventionally loosely related departments.
"China's governance experience provides invaluable lessons to the world," said the essay, because its vertical interaction pattern characterized by a "top-down" manner "ensures sufficient supply of financial resources” in its fight against epidemic. An integrated department with organization and coordination power under the inter-and intra-functional patterns is also needed to "horizontally mobilize resources and guide other departments." What's more, government agencies across multiple levels and functions should "establish extensive cooperation," and that's where a hybrid pattern can play a role in.
Proceeding from China's virus control policies and practices, the essay said anti-pandemic governance patterns should be utilized flexibly based on the target of control and prevention. It also suggested that apart from lockdowns measures and social distancing protocols, greater attention should be paid to enhance multi-level governance to handle the public health crisis.