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Nordic local government: a success story, but will it last?

Arto Haveri (School of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The Nordic narrative on local government highlights municipalities’ role in social consumption, a model, which is often considered a success story. The purpose of this paper is to apply Gerry Stoker’s (2011) theory on local government roles in society to critically analyse the sustainability of the Nordic model.


Drawing on literature review, documents and statistics of Nordic public authorities’, the author formulates exploratory theoretical propositions on the sustainability of the Nordic model of local government.


The emphasis placed on welfare task has made Nordic local government overloaded and vulnerable to central government intervention and reforms, resulting in a cumulative process towards an ever narrowing conception of local government.

Research limitations/implications

The research results are exploratory. Comparative empirical research is needed to verify the idea.

Social implications

The legitimacy of Nordic local government may be challenged because of municipalities’ weakening possibilities to discharge their welfare role in a manner that would satisfy citizens’ growing needs.


The paper is a critical analyses of the sustainability of local government system in Nordic countries. It discusses the possible negative consequences of the overemphasis of the welfare role of local government.



Haveri, A. (2015), "Nordic local government: a success story, but will it last?", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 136-149.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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