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13 February 2023

World Government Summit launches special edition of the book ‘Agile Government’ by MBRSG

The World Government Summit (WGS) 2023 released a special edition of the book Agile Government: Emerging Perspectives in Public Management during the event, which took place from 13 to 15 February at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah. The book was a project undertaken by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), a knowledge partner of WGS. 

H. E. Huda AlHashimi, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, mentioned in the foreword, “Agility is no longer something that’s nice to have. It is important for every government today to make serious investments in becoming more agile, more responsive. This book is an essential read for government leaders and policymakers who want to be able to navigate the policy challenges of the post-pandemic world. Agile Government is the new paradigm by which success will be achieved.”

At the WGS, a panel composed of the book's three editors discussed what it means to be agile in government, drawing insights from the book and the experiences of the UAE. The panel session was moderated by Mr. Fred Sicre, former Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. Agile Government was edited by the MBRSG’s Academic Affairs Department: Prof. Melodena Stephens, Professor of Innovation Management; Prof. Raed Awamleh, the Dean; and Dr. Fadi Salem, Director of Policy Research.

The book project, which began immediately after the borders closed during the pandemic, took two years to complete. The project brought together 38 experts from 10 countries. The contexts covered are not only the UAE but far beyond to Arab countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, the USA, India, and a few countries in Europe. It consists of 23 chapters that delve deep into the topic of agile governments, offering insights that span from the theoretical development of the subject to practical lessons. Various topics are covered, namely, government restructuring, digitalization, crisis management, building trust and reputation, military and government skills, knowledge management, internationalization, healthcare, education, and academic theory. 

“Agile government as a concept has grown in significance over the past few years, but we have yet to achieve consensus on what it is,” said HE Dr. Ali Al Marri, President at MBRSG. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, agile government was strongly associated with digital transformation, project management, or the reinvention of government movements. However, this concept has evolved and has become much broader in scope – not just embracing international affairs, but new technology regulation and management, future talent and sustainability.” 

The book comprises seven themes: concepts and realities, systems thinking, future proofing, building trust, cross-border challenges, strategic communication, and innovation. Some of the challenges for an agile government are that often the tools of agile government become a substitute for strategic thinking; too much emphasis on narrow boundary conditions that are self-imposed rather than taking a broader public value perspective; the inability to identify future skills to create a positive culture for agility; the failure to differentiate between knowledge and the role of data; and finally, to ensure the structures for stability and the processes for accountability are still in place to ensure good governance.

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