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Villkorat förtroende: Normer och rollförväntningar i relationen mellan politiker och tjänstemän i Regeringskansliet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Conditional trust : Norms and role expectations in the relationship between politicians and civil servants in the Government Offices of Sweden (English)
Abstract [en]

The relationship between politicians and civil servants is ambiguous and potentially problematic in democratic terms. The aim of the thesis is to examine this relationship in the Swedish core executive, Regeringskansliet. More specifically, the analysis emphasises the respective role expectations of the two groups when interacting with each other. The thesis is based on two extensive qualitative interview studies with politicians and senior civil servants, one carried out in the early 1980’s and one undertaken more recently. Hence it also offers an opportunity to analyse whether these expectations have changed or remained stable during the last decades.

The findings reveal that the role expectations of politicians and civil servants to a high extent correspond, and have remained relatively stable over time. The relationship between politicians and civil servants is based on norms such as (conditional) trust, delegation and yet relatively close interaction. If so, politicians are unloaded by the civil service in order to handle their external responsibilities. Although relatively informal, a passive hierarchy of roles ensures the superiority of politicians and more specifically of the minister. Civil servants adapt to roles taken by politicians, although providing guidance to the politicians on how to behave in office. The division of labour is not based on the different tasks performed in the policy-making process. Instead, politicians assume responsibility for all actions and decisions – also those undertaken by the civil servants – within the ministries, while civil servants offer politicians protection and security. Taken together these results indicate that the institutionalised norms that surround the relationship between politicians and civil servants are highly powerful. Nevertheless, the thesis also reveals tendencies towards a departure from these norms, suggesting that this relationship is to some extent fragile and exposed to various attempts at reform.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Political Science, Stockholm University , 2013. , 293 p.
Stockholm studies in politics, ISSN 0346-6620 ; 153
Keyword [en]
political institutions, political elites, politicians, civil servants, core executives, government, government offices, state organisation, institutional change and stability, norms, roles, role expectations, trust, organisational theory, Sweden
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94771ISBN: 978-91-7447-776-4OAI: diva2:655582
Public defence
2013-11-29, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-11-07 Created: 2013-10-12 Last updated: 2013-10-31Bibliographically approved

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