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Working Paper No. 1399

Ballooning Bureaucracy: Tracking the Growth of High-Skilled Administration within Swedish Higher Education

Working Paper
Reference
Andersson, Fredrik W., Henrik Jordahl and Anders Kärnä (2021). “Ballooning Bureaucracy: Tracking the Growth of High-Skilled Administration within Swedish Higher Education”. IFN Working Paper No. 1399. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN).

Authors
Fredrik W. Andersson, Henrik Jordahl, Anders Kärnä

Organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, needs to allocate labor for both production as well as internal administration. If this allocation is skewed towards internal administration, organizations, and especially non-profit organizations, might develop sclerosis over time with too much labor allocated to internal administration compared to production. Using detailed registry data on all individuals working at Swedish universities and colleges, we document a rapid increase in the number of qualified administrators, both in the number of employees and in total wages paid for these. This increase is not present in less qualified administration, and is mainly driven by an increase by a few professions such as communication and human resources. The increase does not lead to a significant reduction, or increase, in the time that researchers and teachers spend on administration. This in turn suggests that Swedish higher education over-allocates resources to high-skilled administration.