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3 Theorizing multilevel disaster management governance

As stated above, this is not a paper bent on rigorously testing formally deduced hypotheses. Rather, our goal is to assess the transformation from government to governance regarding a particular emerging policy. Despite this rather inductive orientation, though, we would like to lay out our background understanding and the theoretical lenses we wore when approaching our subject. Since we are dealing with institutional arrangements, political processes and policy content geared towards solving problems and involving networks of public as well as private actors, the governance approach provides us with a suitable theoretical framework to start from (also see the introduction to this volume). Yet as it is a rather wide cloak (cf. Hooghe and Marks 2003; Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 69; Haus 2010, p. 32), the first purpose of this chapter is to explicate our understanding of its key concepts. We shall then very briely add a couple of (further) elements from theories of Comparative Public Policy and link it up with the perspective on democratic accountability.

At its core, governance is about the co-ordinated “management of interdependences”, which usually combines “different modes of regulation”, “crosses […] organizational borders” and involves the “co-operation of state and non-state actors” (Benz 2004, p. 25, authors' translation). In our study into disaster management in the German laender, this definition provides us with a sensorium for the problems, players and interactions to be investigated. The role of political institutions in this regard we see as twofold: first and foremost, they form the context that enables and restricts (Mayntz and Scharpf 1995, p. 43, authors' corresponding translation) political agency. Yet in turn, the design of

political institutions may become the subject of political actors' problem-solving (meta-) strategies. Moreover, the problems to be solved and the interdependences to be managed are not simply externally given. Of course, in the case of disaster management, there are often public and private components to them that are physically and technically comparatively straight-forward (Mitroff et al. 1996). Yet actors' perceptions of problems and interdependences (as well as of the strategies to be adopted once agreement on the former is reached) play a crucial role in the formation of their preferences (Pennings and Grossman 2008), and thus need to be taken into account prominently. In turn, it is “the behavioural outcome space that needs to be managed during a crisis or disaster, which is done through appropriate communication, management, and shaping of risk attitudes and risk perceptions” (Pennings and Grossman 2008, p. 446; for an account of different cultures of risk Pardo Enrico 2012, pp. 10–15). Yet when doing so, most of the analyses so far turn their theoretical lenses mainly on formal rather than on informal institutions, which misses decisive factors that shape governance, i.e. “socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are created, communicated, and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels” (Helmke and Levitsky 2004, p. 727).

Many critics argue, and with quite some justification, that the governance approach suffers from a bias towards problem-solving (Blumenthal 2005, p. 1172) and is rather insensitive to aspects of domination (Mayntz 2004, p. 74). This leads to the questions of how legitimate the empowerment of non-state actors on the one hand and the commission of their resources on the other hand that occurs within governance arrangements and processes actually are. Societal and political ascriptions of the appropriate roles for all actors concerned are situated at the root of these issues. Take, for example, the following telling quotation from the current civilian security research funding framework of the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education, effortlessly switching from the descriptive to the normative dimension:

Security services are an important element of modern public and entrepreneurial security provision. In the context of scarcer resources, rising security requirements and increasing privatization of critical infrastructure have led to a stronger division of labor between the public purse and private business. […] Research will advance the development of user-oriented service models and standards. The introduction of new technology platforms will enable new security services. New qualification and awareness-raising concepts will enhance the quality, efficiency, and acceptance of security services. (BMBF 2012, p. 16, authors' translation)

Clearly, the government is set on enticing citizens “to see the attractions of being a 'consumer' of the security industry” (Loader 1999, p. 378).

Yet it is not ideas alone that determine temporal and spatial variations of policies. According to the Heidelberg School of Comparative Public Policy (Schmidt 1993; Schmidt et al. 2007; Zohlnhöfer 2008), there are six major groups of determinants which also ought to be kept in mind. These are (1) political inheritance, (2) socio-economic and demographic factors, (3) interest group power, (4) partisan differences, (5) the institutional setting, and (6) international inluences (such as economic globalization and political denationalization).10 Regarding specific policy issues, this catalogue can be extended to include further variables like socio-cultural or geographic constellations. As stated above, our research into multilevel disaster management governance did not start with a deduction of specific hypotheses on these groups of determinants and their impact. We list them here in order to clarify with which categories and potential causal relationships habitually engrained into the backs of our minds we delved into this rather inductive undertaking. As it will turn out, not all of them are of the same importance in this particular field. Partisan effects, for example, are much rarer and more nuanced than in distributive matters of social policy. One could even argue that Bevoelkerungsschutz takes place in a “political vacuum” (Beck 1986, p. 64, author's translation). Institutional factors, to the contrary, were from the start quite likely to be much more important.

Regarding the emergence of new policies, according to Janning (2011, p. 29–30; authors' translation), we have to look out for “acts of appropriation and acknowledgement […] by which the stock of competencies, rules, and knowledge is made apparent and asserts itself as reality.” Not the least, (re-)formations of policy fields are to be understood in terms of a political science of knowledge orders (Nullmeier 1993). Therefore, the creation and diffusion of knowledge within networks needs to be considered prominently. Comfort (2012, p. 110) underscores this in her review of recent research:

The challenge of building resilient sociotechnical systems for communities lies in creating a sufficient base of shared knowledge among researchers, policy makers, and managers from technical and social science disciplines to address creatively the interdependencies among the technical and organizational systems that are endemic to complex disaster operations.

Mayntz (1993, p. 44) even interprets the dynamics of policies as primarily being about new networks superimposing previous hierarchical structures.

Finally, accompanying our analysis of the problem-adequacy of formal and informal governance patterns and networks, we shall also denote where democratic control and accountability, both through elected representatives and direct citizen scrutiny, is critically affected. In Roller's (2005, p. 24) terms, this accompanying interest of ours is in the “procedural goals” of “democratic performance”, and it is in line with Deitelhoff and Geis's (2008, pp. 292–293) plea for a 'back to the future' in security governance studies: back to traditional questions political science used to ask, in critical awareness of sealingoff tendencies in contemporary public-private security arrangements. This is not intended to criticize Bevoelkerungsschutz activities as such, though, for “a state that cannot prevent and combat catastrophes effectively gambles away its citizens' trust. It delegitimizes itself” (Klöpfer 2012, p. 6; authors' translation).

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