Strategisk styrning bortom NPM


  • Göran Sundström


In recent years, the governing model used in the Swedish public sector – Management by Results – has become a subject of debate. While the government has argued that it must be replaced with a new model that gives the professionals increased status and autonomy, others have argued that it must be maintained in order to put high demands on public employees and prevent them from getting too much power. The debate gives the impression that there are only two ways to govern a modern administration: either through output-oriented instrumental hierarchy, where superiors at various levels hold their subordinates in short leashes through detailed steering and control systems, or through professional norms, where the superiors leave the subordinates alone and put their trust in that they act professionally and in the interest of the government and the public, even “when no one is looking”. This article widens the perception of governing and argues that a dimming of Management by Results does not have to lead to a situation where the administration becomes disconnected from the outside world and is left to “run its own race”. Based on current research within the field of meta-governance, and by using empirical examples from the Swedish central government, this article shows that the government possesses – and often uses – various governing strat- egies and control instruments to ensure that the administration can retain a high degree of orientation and adaptability, even in situations where the government is unable or unwilling to express its wishes and preferences as precise and consistent as the established steering model requires of them.