To read this content please select one of the options below:

NGOs and challenges confronted in the implementation of active labour market policies: The case of Finland and Sweden

Thomas Babila Sama (Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 23 October 2017

Issue publication date: 8 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to find the challenges confronted by NGOs in the implementation of the active labour market policies of Finland and Sweden, and how the challenges could be overcome.


This is a qualitative empirical case study where two NGOs were selected in Finland and one NGO was selected in Sweden for the data collection. The two selected NGOs in Finland were Jyväskylän Katulähetys in the City of Jyväskylä and Pirkanmaan Sininauha in the City of Tampere. Meanwhile, the one selected NGO in Sweden was Stockholm’s Stadsmission in the City of Stockholm. Primary data for this study were collected through interviews with two senior executives of the selected NGOs in Finland and Sweden. Secondary data were collected through the websites of the selected NGOs in Finland and Sweden, the organizational records, books, published and unpublished research and from internet websites. The data were analyzed through qualitative content and thematic analyses.


The findings revealed that the selected NGOs in Finland and Sweden were confronted with four main challenges in their work, namely: funding challenge because the NGOs did not have sufficient funds to carry out their activities effectively; credibility challenge mainly by the NGO in Sweden because Sweden is a very secular country where there is political resistance for public money being given to faith-based organizations in the country; workforce recruitment challenge because the NGOs have to employ specifically long-term unemployed people from disadvantaged groups in the case of the NGOs in Finland, and because whenever they have to compete with other stakeholders for a bid to win a project funded by the city council, the city council often demands that about 80 per cent of their staff need to have a social work qualification in the case of the NGOs in Sweden; and competition challenge because of competition with other stakeholders to win bids from the city council in the case of the NGOs in Sweden. On the other hand, the findings revealed that these challenges could be overcome if the Government of Finland and Sweden provide the NGOs with sufficient funds for them to carry out their activities.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this study are that this is a case study focused only on two NGOs in Finland and one NGO in Sweden. Thus, in order to generalize the findings to include the whole country, it is recommended that a more representative number of NGOs be studied in future studies. This study also focused only on NGOs with a religious background in Finland and Sweden. Future studies could include NGOs with a non-religious background.

Practical implications

The practical implication of this study is that the study may be useful to policy makers in the development of policies for NGOs involved in the area of social service provision.

Social implications

The social implication is that this study may contribute in making NGOs to become more effective in their work in the society.


This study is original in that it is an empirical research.



Sama, T.B. (2017), "NGOs and challenges confronted in the implementation of active labour market policies: The case of Finland and Sweden", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 118-133.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles