The role of intergovernmental relations in response to a wicked problem: An analysis of the COVID-19 crisis in the BRICS countries
de Oliveira, Jose A. Puppim
Barabashev, Alexey G.
Thompson, Lisa Ingrid
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Globally, policy environments have become increasingly more complex with the growth in the number of wicked problems, such as that posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In their response to these problems, public administrations have, from necessity, become heavily reliant on their intergovernmental relations systems, as the challenges posed generally require multilevel responses. This paper analyzes the role of intergovernmental relations in shaping the responses of the BRICS countries when confronted with COVID-19. We develop an analytical framework to understand the dynamics of intergovernmental relations in these countries. Based on this we assess the capacity of the state and political systems to manage intergovernmental relations and ensure effective responses to the COVID-19 crisis. This framework is based on an analysis of three dimensions of the policy domain: the political and state system, formal and informal institutions, and the political alignment between them. Whilst state and political systems were found to be instrumental in formulating an immediate response to the crisis, informal institutions and political processes also played a prominent role in determining the extent to which strategies were implemented, particularly in countries that are more decentralized. Countries lacking the robust formal institutions needed to facilitate intergovernmental relations and to ensure swift policy responses, tend to deliver ineffective and inefficient results when confronted with wicked problems.