Small but Sturdy: Lessons on robust governance from COVID-19 in the Faroe Islands

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The study of robust governance is vital for the development of the necessary capacity to deal with difficult challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Faroes are a subnational island jurisdiction that managed the pandemic relatively well. However, the reasons for this governance success have not been adequately studied. This case study asks, ‘how was Faroese COVID-19 governance robust?’ and ‘how can robust characteristics of Faroese pandemic governance be explained?’ The case study shows how robustness was demonstrated through finding a balance between stability and change, which was suitable to the particularities of Faroese society. The analysis also shows a connection between robustness on the one hand and speed and flexibility on the other. Although the Faroese government and most of its organizations were unprepared for the pandemic, the ability to take rapid action compensated for the lack of preparedness. At several critical junctures, speed and expediency demonstrated their value over deliberation and planning which, under normal circumstances, hold considerable importance in public administration. In turbulent situations, timing is critical and solving the ‘speed versus deliberation’ dilemma emerges as an important aspect of robust governance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalSmall States & Territories
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Faroe Islands
  • public administration
  • turbulence
  • robust governance (robustness)
  • social capacity
  • smallness
  • temporality


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