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About the ERAC-DP Project

Objectives & Research Questions

COVID-19, and the economic collapse triggered by it, laid bare the precarious financial, educational, and social situations of residents in communities around the world. The collapse has exposed and exacerbated enduring economic and social inequities by pushing those precariously employed, housed, clothed, educated, and fed deeper into a low or no-access abyss and pushing those who were moderately well-off into the uncertainty of hardship. Organizations that serve this high need/high-risk population have also been challenged by new resource constraints, different capacities to adapt, and various levels of capacity for collaboration and to enhance performance in light of unique, widespread need. This research focuses in two areas: reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities and fostering democratic governance and political participation. These foci are inextricably linked and can fruitfully be explored in tandem. Together, we label them as democratic performance.

Using organizational theories, organizational behavior theories, sociological theories, and democratic theories, with a focus on adaptive capacity, inter-organizational relations, performance, and bureaucratic responsiveness, the research asks four questions across four countries: (RQ1) What health, social and economic wellbeing inequalities both real and perceived emerged for vulnerable populations during COVID-19 pandemic, pre- and post-vaccine, and why did they emerge? (RQ2) How did single and collaborative organizational (government, nonprofit) adaptive capacities affect (in)equitable outcomes for vulnerable populations, pre- and post-vaccine, such as individual felt exclusion and trust in social support organizations? (RQ3) How did single and collaborative adaptive capacities affect policy compliance and behavior for vulnerable populations? (RQ4) What digital tools will facilitate a sustained international and domestic collaboration to enhance global and local action to reduce inequities, increase inclusion in decision-making, and strengthen trust and universal policy compliance? For the purposes of addressing these questions, vulnerable populations consist of recipients of services from social support organizations in comparison to the general population.

These questions address four points within the “reducing inequalities” and “fostering democratic governance” challenge areas. RQ1 addresses the concern: Why some populations are affected more adversely than others by virtue of such factors as socioeconomic status, age, ethnic and educational background, geography, cultural practices, environmental issues, and other human capital factors. RQ2 and RQ3 address the concern: How such disparities can be addressed to ensure a successful renewal and recovery from COVID-19 and future pandemics. RQ3 addresses the concern: The development of robust evidence-informed advice and mechanisms for recovery and political participation processes. RQ4 addresses the concern: How international collaboration, global governance, and law can be enhanced to manage cross-border issues.

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