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Administrative reforms in Europe. A North-South divide?

Public Accountability and Public Administration Seminar
7 May 2018, h. 17.00

Speaker: Per Laegreid (University of Bergen)
Chair: Paola Mattei (University of Milan)

SPS Seminar Room (Room 215, II Floor,  Passione side)
Dipartimento di Scienze sociali e politiche
Via Conservatorio 7, Milano


This paper focuses on a core element in the assumed Nordic model – the administrative apparatus and its apparent success – by examining current reform experiences in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The research questions are: What characterizes Nordic public sector executives’ perceptions of reform processes, trends, contents and management instruments? What is the perceived performance of the Nordic public administration, and is there a Nordic model of administrative reform? To answer these questions we present results from a questionnaire to European top civil servants in ministries and central agencies conducted in 2012-2015. Our analysis finds that there is a North-South divide in Europe between the Nordic and the Napoleonic countries Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. In contrast to the Napoleonic countries the Nordic countries are active, pragmatic, motivated and rather satisfied reformers. There is high reform activity, public involvement and union support.  The reforms address service improvement more than cost-cutting. The Nordic model comes out as a mixed system with multiple reforms combining professional governance, stakeholder engagement, management instruments, and the more traditional Weberian bureaucratic principles with a limited dose of market-based governance. The reforms are perceived as rather successful and the overall perceived performance is strong. However, to what degree this perception of high performance is due to successful reforms, is more uncertain.


This seminar is part of the Cycle of seminars "Public Accountability and Public Administration"

20 aprile 2018
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