The World Economic Forum (WEF) released a whitepaper report exploring agile governance within a public sector context. WEF argues that agile policy making is needed to meet the challenges of the forth-industrial revolution.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the unprecedented advances in technology transforming the way individuals and groups across society live, work and interact. New principles, protocols, rules and policies are needed to accelerate the positive and inclusive impacts of these technologies, while minimizing or eliminating their negative consequences.

The institutions that have traditionally had the responsibility of shaping the societal impacts of these technologies – including governments, companies and civil society organizations – are struggling to keep up with the rapid change and exponential impact.

There is an urgent need for a more agile approach to governing emerging technologies and the business models and social interaction structures they enable.

In this paper, we define agile governance as adaptive, human-centred, inclusive and sustainable policymaking, which acknowledges that policy development is no longer limited to governments but rather is an increasingly multistakeholder effort.”

Key Points

  • The paper defines public sector governance as well as the influences of agile governance.
    • “Agility implies an action or method of nimbleness, fluidity, flexibility or adaptiveness. In the software sector, the concept of agile or “agility” has been around since the 1990s. The Agile Manifesto6 was written by 17 software developers in 2001…”
    • “The concept of agile governance aims to shift the manner in which policies are generated, deliberated, enacted and enforced in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Pairing these terms sets the expectation that governance can be, and some would argue should be, more agile to keep pace with the rapid changes of society – driven significantly by the rapid development and deployment of emerging technologies.”
  • The paper outlines methods for agile governance, including through human-centric approaches, systems and design thinking, innovation, experimentation and other approaches.
  • It further identifies tools for agile governance, including:
    • Policy labs
    • Regulation sandboxes
    • Technology (including emerging tech)
    • Promoting governance innovation
    • Crowdsourced policy-making
    • Promoting collaboration between regulators and innovators
    • Public-private data sharing
    • Direct representation in governance
  • It calls for expanding governance beyond the government, including:
    • Industry self regulation
    • Super regulators
    • Setting ethical standards
    • Creating collaborative governance ecosystems
    • Creating transparency and trust in technology




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