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Old woman´s hand holding a teacup
Photo: Claudia van Zyl
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Ready to serve? Structural reform, institutional quality, and welfare services in Swedish municipalities

Research project
Pågående forskning
Project size
4 998 000 SEK
Project period
2018 - 2021
Project owner
Department of Political Science

Short description

Questions regarding the quality of welfare services are both important to many citizens, and a frequently
highlighted theme in Swedish political discourse. A parallel discussion concerns a longstanding and intense debate over how the public sector ought to be organized in order to maximize both quality and effectiveness. This project merges these questions by focusing on the importance of institutional quality—characterized by an effective and impartial bureaucracy, free from corruption; a crucial factor for human welfare according to social science research, which has yet only received limited attention within the discussion on Swedish welfare.

By investigating the municipal level, with a particular focus on elderly care, we will conduct a number of comparative studies, both between municipalities and over time, in order to answer the question of how institutional quality affects the relationship between different modes of steering and the quality of welfare provision. Our approach will span from the political sphere, through administration, to the citizen level. Insofar, the project will generate new insights regarding why municipalities variably succeed in providing their citizens with welfare services. Moreover, it will provide new insights into how structural reform and different paradigms of steering, for example as part of New Public Management and more recent efforts to emphasize trust in the professional sphere, in turn matters for how Swedish municipal institutions function today.