Can administrative autonomy be enough? Experiences of administrative autonomy as a political and administrative asset in a Swedish municipality

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The struggle of power between politicians and civil servants in relation to introduction of different administrative reforms have always been a hot topic, specifically in issues to do with delegation of administrative autonomy from a political to administrative level. Advocates of administrative autonomy argue that administrative autonomy is a good administrative reform that spikes performance, trust and a more citizen-oriented governance as it allows professionals- senior civil servants- to use their knowledge and skills which are valuable for boosting motivation and quality. Critics contend this argument and state that administrative autonomy can result to moral hazards, and make politicians illegitimate as representatives of the people. This study explores and resolve the debate further through examining and understanding experiences of administrative autonomy in Östra Göinge Municipality, as a political and administrative asset. That is through qualitatively interviewing politicians and senior civil servants in Östra Göinge Municipality. Therefore, through the scope of administrative autonomy and political control theory, it is argued that administrative autonomy significantly impact experiences of both senior civil servants and politicians in Östra Göinge Municipality in the light of professionalism; creativity; trust and collaboration, performance in terms of efficiency, flexibility and effectivity; and decrease in overload for politicians. However, it spikes political consequences such as undermining politicians’ engagement and causing vague roles for politicians. It is argued that trust and interaction between politicians and civil servants are salient for balancing administrative autonomy as an administrative and political asset.

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