Lundin, M. 2007. The conditions for multi-level governance: implementation, politics and cooperation in Swedish active labor market policy. 47pp. Uppsala. ISBN 978-91-506-1939-3
How can the central state direct local public units to work effectively towards public sector goals? In an effort to understand the conditions for governance, the three self-contained essays housed in this thesis examine the role of central and local government agencies in implementation of active labor market policy (ALMP) in Sweden. The study is based on new and unique quantitative data.
To understand steering possibilities, it is necessary to examine how local politics impinges on local actions. Thus, essay I concerns the following question: Does it matter for local government actions whether left wing or right wing parties govern at local level? I propose that the effect of political partisanship depend on entity size. I expect left-wing governments to be more engaged in ALMPs, but that the impact will be larger in sizeable entities. Empirical evidence supports the theoretical priors.
It is also important to know how actors can be coordinated. Thus, essay II tries to explain cooperation between agencies. Trust, goal congruence, and resource interdependence are focused upon. The results indicate that there is no impact of trust on cooperation if goals diverge. Similarly, it does not matter that agencies trust one another if they have different agendas. But if both factors exist simultaneously, cooperation increases. On the other hand, resource interdependence boosts cooperation regardless of trust levels.
But does cooperation really improve policy implementation?
Essay III proposes that the impact is contingent on task complexity. I expect cooperation to be more valuable when the task is complex. In accordance with this hypothesis, the evidence suggests that only complex tasks can be carried out better through intense interorganizational cooperation.
Taken together, the insights from the essays might help us find routes to better governance.
Keywords: Governance, Intergovernmental relations, Implementation, Cooperation, Political parties, Active labor market policy, Sweden