Stat och kommun i makt(o)balans. En studie av flyktingmottagandet
“Central and local government in power(im)balance”. Already from the title of this dissertation can two important points be made. The first is that the dissertation is about the relationship between central and local government, more specifically in Sweden today. The second point is that this relationship is seen from a balance of power perspective, where the relative power of the actors is an empirical question rather than derived from a given hierarchical structure. Such a perspective is based on analysing the actors as interdependent. The central government can thus be dependent on the local government, as well as the other way around, and this interdependence can vary over time and between policy areas. This perspective differs from that of most studies, which often see the relationship either in terms of steering (that local governments are executing centrally determined policies) or local self-government (that the Swedish local governments has a constitutionally protected right to handle their own affairs within certain legal limits). I argue that both these perspectives take a hierarchical point of departure and are, to a large degree, static in their approaches, which means that they risk not discovering, or have problem explaining, changes in the relation between central and local government. To view the relationship between central and local government as interdependence leads to a focus on the resources that the actors possess. For public organisations the most relevant resources are: authority-related resources, financial resources, political resources, informational resources, and organisational resources. The central government has a power advantage concerning authority and financial and political resources while local governments generally have an advantage in terms of informational and organisational resources. The policy area chosen is Swedish refugee policy. The basic paradox within this area is that the central government grants the refugees asylum but cannot give them a place to live without the permission of the local government. This permission is accomplished through voluntary agreements signed between the National Integration Office and the local governments. It is then the local governments that integrate the refugees to Swedish society by providing housing, education, healthcare and so on while the central government is giving the local government a grant to cover the expenses. The central government has lacked political, informational and authority-related resources. The resource used to compensate for this has been the financial resource. By economic incentives the central government has encouraged local governments to increase their refugee reception. This has been the central government’s universal weapon and has been used to reduce its vulnerability as well as its sensitivity. For local governments, authority-related and financial resources have been lacking. The resource that the local governments have had, all the way through the time period studied here, is the organisational resource. This is something that the central government simply cannot provide and this is why there is a relationship of interdependence – just as only the central government has authority in its power base, the local level is the only one with organisational resources.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; central government; Sweden; refugee; interdependence; sensitivity; vulnerability; power balance; power imbalance; resource; negotiation; Political and administrative sciences; local government; Statsvetenskap; förvaltningskunskap
Date of Publication:01/01/2002