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Solving governance issue: tension between front stage and back stage

On 12th of April 2019 Erik Hans Klijn discussed the tension between what happens on the front stage and the back stage in governance processes dealing with complex issues, for a group of practitioners and researchers at Wellington University in New Zealand.

Complex issues like vaccination, organ donation and for instance issues about environmental behavior are intensely discussed in the media. This is what Klijn terms as Front stage, the world of media and politics where governance problems are often framed in quick and simple messages and where dramatization and conflict do well, Klijn argued based on literature and recent research. But this clashes hard with the world of the backstage where governance problems are tackle and implementation is important. In the backstage, where we try to address governance problems we face, complexity because many actors are involved, we encounter different opinions about the nature of the problem and we face situations where governments are dependent from many resources of many different actors. This requires prudent leadership, long term dedication and the necessity to compromise and willingness and information to address the complexity of the problem. This is difficult because the process on the front stage tends to simplify the problem and fuel conflicts.

Klijn argues that we will witness a growing gap between the front stage and back stage which is difficult to bridge. Using more visual tools and techniques as branding and involving people more in communication processes are probably the only solutions but will certainly not be able to solve the whole problem of the gap between front stage and back stage.

Link to the event.