Researching COVID-19: A Research Agenda for Public Policy and Administration Scholars

Dunlop, Claire A.; Ongaro, Edoardo and Baker, Keith (2020). Researching COVID-19: A Research Agenda for Public Policy and Administration Scholars. Public Policy and Administration, 35(4) pp. 365–383.



Coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the defining policy challenges of an era. In this article we sketch some possible ways in which the public policy and administration (PPA) scholarly community can make an enduring contribution about how to cope with this terrible crisis. We do so by offering some elements that to delineate a tentative research agenda for PPA scholars, to be pursued with epistemic humility. We outline the contours of seven analytical themes that are central to the challenges presented by COVID-19: policy design and instruments; policy learning; public service and its publics; organisational capacity; public governance; administrative traditions; and public sector reforms in multi-level governance (MLG). The list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive to COVID-19 only. The knowledge the PPA scholarly community can generate must speak not only to the daunting challenge of COVID-19 itself but also to policymakers, and indeed humankind, trying to cope with future unexpected but high impact threats (‘black swans’), by leveraging better public policies and building administrative capacities to enable more resilient, equitable and effective public services.

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