2019

Municipally Owned Enterprises as Danger Zones for Corruption? How Politicians Having Feet in Two Camps May Undermine Conditions for Accountability

Reprint No. 2019:32


The market-inspired reforms of New Public Management have been particularly pronounced in Swedish local government. Notably, municipally owned enterprises (MOEs) have rapidly grown in numbers. Principal-agent theory gives rise to the hypothesis that the massive introduction of MOEs has impacted negatively on the conditions for accountability in Swedish local government. To study this, social network analysis was employed in mapping networks for 223 MOEs in 11 strategically chosen municipalities, covering a total of 732 politicians. The analysis reveals substantial overlaps between principals (representatives of the ultimate stakeholders, citizens) and agents (the boards of the MOEs). Hence, corporatization of public services seems to imply worrisome entanglements between the politicians who are set to steer, govern, and oversee MOEs on the one hand, and the board members of MOEs on the other. The increasing numbers of MOEs may therefore have adverse effects on accountability in important and growing parts of Swedish local government.


Reference:
Bergh, Andreas, Gissur Erlingsson, Anders Gustafsson and Emanuel Wittberg (2019), "Municipally Owned Enterprises as Danger Zones for Corruption? How Politicians Having Feet in Two Camps May Undermine Conditions for Accountability". Public Integrity 21(3), 320–352.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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