Department of Administration and Organization Theory

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Special Issue of Public Management Review: New Coordination Challenges in the welfare State

Per Lægreid and Lise H. Rykkja, together with Külli Sarapuub and Tiina Randma-Liiv at Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance in Estonia, are editors of a special issue of Public Management Review that deals with coordination in the public sector.

From the introduction

The articles in this special issue focus on coordination practices in the policy fields of health, welfare and employment. These are core welfare state areas which have been under significant reforms over the past decades. Administrative reforms within these policy areas have produced new coordination challenges for governments, but they have also provided novel solutions to integrate organizations, stakeholders and services. These new ways of working tend to challenge existing regulations as well as institutional frameworks and working methods. Some changes represent full-scale reforms covering both structures and working practices, others are limited to the provision of certain services.

The articles describe and analyse novel coordination practices, explain their constraining and enabling factors, identify their perceived effects and draw lessons for public-sector coordination. From different angles, they address the attempts of governments to align various actors around transboundary goals, and assess how the emerging instruments are being implemented and work in practice. In addition, the articles analyse how governments handle complex transboundary issues, known as ‘wicked issues’, where there is a mismatch between the problem structure and the existing organizational structure. The main ambition is to draw important conclusions about the coordination of multifaceted policy problems that straddle the borders of organizations, ministerial areas of responsibility and administrative levels.

By including case studies from six countries coordination challenges in different politico-administrative contexts are highlighted. The articles provide crucial insights into public-sector coordination. They offer new knowledge on the application of theory for studying specific coordination instruments and for the practice of coordinating different actors engaged in the design and implementation of welfare policies. From the synergy of the studies, five key observations arise. These relate to (1) increasing pressures on the welfare state, (2) concerns regarding multilevel governance, (3) the choice between different coordination mechanisms, (4) the role of politicians and politics, and (5) the issue of accountability. These observations, which can also be presented as contemporary coordination challenges


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