Towards a Typology of Adaptive Governance in the Digital Government Context: The Role of Decision-making and Accountability

Cancan Wang, Rony Medaglia, Lei Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The notion of adaptive governance was originally created to capture forms of collaboration in socio-ecological systems that can respond to rapid changes in the environment. However, such a notion also has a great potential to be transferred and understood in the digital government context, where there is an increasing need to establish forms of collaboration that can respond to swift changes in the environment related to technology and citizen demands. Drawing on the analysis of four cases of IT-related project collaboration, we put forward that the degree of sharing of decision-making power and of accountability between government and non-government actors is critical to developing different types of adaptive governance. Findings show that the distribution of decision-making power and of accountability can be decoupled, resulting in three types of adaptive governance – namely polycentric, agile, and organic governance. We contribute to research by detailing and empirically testing the notion of adaptive governance in a digital government context, and to practice by highlighting the role of the distribution of decision-making power and of accountability in devising adaptive governance strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Pages (from-to)306-322
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 5. September 2017


  • Adaptive governance
  • Digital government
  • Decision-making
  • Accountability

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