Juneau, Alaska’s Successful Response to COVID-19: A Case Study of Adaptive Leadership in a Complex System

James E. Powell, Robert W. Orttung, Sean Asikłuk Topkok, Hana Akselrod, Joseph Little, Peggy Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Juneau, Alaska, kept COVID-19 deaths lower than in other similar jurisdictions. We argue that adaptive leadership—the early decisions and actions of Juneau’s leaders, effective communications, and emergent new collaborative structures—in the context of municipal ownership of key assets enabled Juneau’s success. The result of 61 interviews and follow-up research, this case study contributes a better understanding of which institutional design, communication, and collaborative factors mattered in responding to the pandemic. Adaptive leadership provides a better explanation for Juneau’s success than alternatives that focus on its isolation, home-rule status, and socio-economic structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalState and Local Government Review
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alaskan Native health care
  • COVID-19
  • adaptive leadership
  • complex systems
  • local governance
  • public health emergency response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations

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