Emma Ek Österberg

Senior Lecturer

School of Public Administration
Visiting address
Sprängkullsgatan 19
41123 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 712
40530 Göteborg

About Emma Ek Österberg

Emma Ek Österberg is an associate professor in public administration. Her research concerns governance and organization in the public sector, often with a focus on administrative policy reforms and their consequences. She has. among other things, studied governance in relation to public procurement, marketization in public sector, and various forms of public sector auditing, with a particular interest in state inspection. In recent years, Emma has participated in a number of different research projects that deal with developments in the public sector, for example how far-reaching ambitions for sustainable procurement are put into practice, and state authorities' strategies to ensure efficiency and equality in state inspection.

Ongoing research projects

Taking lead in the circular transformation - bridging implementation gaps in sustainable public procurement

In Sweden, public organizations annually procure goods and services for approximately SEK 800 billion, which means great opportunities to influence production, companies and markets. At the same time, public consumption accounts for almost 30% of Sweden's climate impact. This project is about circular and fossil-free procurement, which the government has identified as crucial in the transition to a circular economy and a sustainable society. It requires extensive changes to the procurement practice where many actors must come together to develop new approaches and working methods, while collaboration with the companies needs to find new ways. However, in-depth analyzes of such change processes are lacking. The purpose of the project is to identify and explain the challenges that public organizations face in the organization and implementation of circular and fossil-free procurement and thus contribute knowledge that can be used to bridge the gap between policy and practice. Project manager: Emma Ek Österberg. Funded by Formas 2022-2024.

Uniformity in animal welfare inspection

In this interdisciplinary project, which is carried out in collaboration between the Swedish University of Agriculture and the School of Public Administration at the University of Gothenburg, we study methods for equal control in the area of animal welfare. In Sweden, we are proud of our animal welfare, and the level of animal welfare legislation, at the same time that criticism is directed at the control which is believed to be uneven and unfair. The study aims to increase knowledge about how increased uniformity in animal welfare control can be achieved, which strategies can be applied and what they mean for the practice and effects of animal welfare control. In the project, surveys, interviews and an experimental sub-study are carried out where different strategies are tested and evaluated. Project manager: Frida Lundmark Hedman, SLU. Financed by Formas 2021-2024.

Changing roles, emerging networks: Local governments as employer, procurer and entrepreneur in labour market integration

Labour market integration of foreign-born persons is a key challenge both for integration policies and for the organising of future working-life. A large number of local labour market integration initiatives have been developed from bottom-up in recent years, led by municipalities in collaboration with public organizations, companies and non-profits; a phenomenon that is still understudied. This project aims at examining the changing roles of the local government in creating and scaling up novel initiatives for labour market integration, as well as the construction of emergent networks among them. Attempts to use public procurement in innovative ways are part of this, as well as collaboration with a wide range of local actors. Head of project: Patrik Zapata. Financed by the Swedish Research Council 2020-2023

Previous projects (selection)

Organising labour market integration of immigrants: theory and practice

This multidisciplinary research programme aims at investigating labour market integration initiatives directed at immigrants, from the perspective of contemporary organisation theory. The project has its roots in practice-based approaches to labour market integration. Thus, its aim is to study how initiatives intended to support labour market integration of refugees and other immigrants work in everyday practice: how they are made sense of by integrators and by the immigrants, and how they are organised with the help of a variety of ideas, people, objects and activities. Programme director: Andreas Diedrich (programme website). Financed by Forte 2017-2022.

Practicing Compulsory Education

This project was carried out in the spring of 2022 on behalf of the County Administrative Board in Västra Götaland. The purpose of the study was to increase the knowledge about how the Compulsory Education in Västra Götaland County works and to make visible keys to success. The Compulsory Education was implemented in 2018 as part of a reform and re-regulation of the Establishment Program for newly arrived immigrants. The Compulsory Education means that the municipalities' tasks are expanded within the framework of the program, for those people who are judged to be in need of basic education in order to be matchable. For these individuals, the program is filled with educational initiatives within municipal adult education with the goal of creating long-term conditions for labour market establishment for those with short education. But how does the Compulsory Education work a few years after its introduction? What efforts are provided, how does it differ between municipalities, what opportunities for improvement are there? Project manager: Emma Ek Österberg. Financed by the County Administrative Board Västra Götaland.

Organizing for auditing

We live in a society that has become organized around audit, but where auditing processes and their consequences have not properly been integrated into our thinking about governance and democracy. This is problematic since auditing is likely to have significant ramifications on state performance and state legitimacy. The overall aim of this project is to develop an understanding of how auditing has been organized in the Swedish state and the consequences of this institutional development on democracy and governance. The project draws on, and integrates, two theoretical traditions: institutional organization theory and historical institutionalism. Projektledare: Bengt Jacobsson, Jon Pierre, Göran Sundström. Finansierat av Riksbankens jubileumsfond.

The Swedish Transport Administration - a modern state authority?

How modern can a government agency become, if it still wants to be an authority? This project studies the Swedish Transport Administration's attempt to realize the idea of ​​being a modern organization. The notion that state authorities operate in the service of both citizens and the business community permeates the Swedish Transport Administration. The agency neither designs nor builds, but procures such services from private companies. It is market ideas that prevail, and the agency sees itself as a partner to the business community. In the project, we analyze the Swedish Transport Administration's efforts to be a refined purchaser, to be responsive in its planning and to be active in EU work and how these ambitions are packaged. The project is interdisciplinary and includes researchers in business administration, political science, public administration and linguistics. Project leaders: Bengt Jacobsson and Göran Sundström.

Teaching and supervising

Emma is involved in teaching, supervision and examination at the doctoral, master's and bachelor's level, primarily in organization, management accounting, public procurement, public audit. She also has many years of experience in commissioned training in the area of state inspection, including in tailor-made courses on inspection for government authorities and in the recurring course "State inspection in theory and practice"..