Polycentric governance in practice: the case of Ukraine’s decentralised crisis response during the Russo-Ukrainian war

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Oleksandra Keudel Kyiv School of Economics, Ukraine

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Oksana Huss University of Bologna, Italy

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Public choice scholars have long argued that the decentralisation of governance has substantial benefits, though the specific context is necessary to understand why and how it works well. This article provides an Ostromian analysis of decentralised governance in Ukraine based on a wartime survey of 204 Ukrainian local authorities (LAs), in-depth interviews and focus groups with LA representatives. The article identifies empirical evidence of three mechanisms of polycentricity at play locally in Ukraine: the facilitation of local knowledge; resource mobilisation; and the enablement of experimentation and innovation. One year into the full-scale Russian invasion, empirical insights from Ukraine demonstrate how a polycentric governance system can contribute to resilience in a protracted and extreme crisis. The research findings also highlight the critical role of personal communication and technology in enabling social innovation that supports resilience.

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Oleksandra Keudel Kyiv School of Economics, Ukraine

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Oksana Huss University of Bologna, Italy

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