Administrative reform – Arguments and Values

NORDIC RESEARCH PROGRAMME 2005 - 2008: Internationalisation of regional development policies – Needs and demands in the Nordic countries. REPORT: 6

All eight Nordic countries and self-governing areas have recently discussed or are currently discussing their administrative structures, i.e. how many municipalities or regions there should be and what responsibilities they should have. Denmark has already implemented a reform, Finland has begun to do so and, Greenland will soon follow. The experience has however been rather less successful in Norway and Sweden where many years of study and discussion now seem to have been more or less wasted.
This report describes the processes and the discourse of administrative reform with a particular focus on the arguments used and the values that lie behind these arguments. The discourses are mainly concerned with four types of arguments relating to democracy, efficiency, regional development and the reform process itself. The arguments used, it is argued here, are mainly prophesies about the future. This forward-looking political logic is rather different from the work undertaken by research-based inquiries where future direction is sought in past experiences.

The current report is part of Nordregio's research programme, Internationalisation of regional development policies – needs and demands in the Nordic countries. The analysis of events and developments has been updated to June 2008.