Volume 45, No. 2 | Local government officers

Anders Ryom Villadsen | Institutional explanations of organizational changes in Danish municipalities 1984-2000

Why do municipalities carry out structural changes? This question is illuminated in an investigation of the wave of structural downsizings in Danish municipalities in the 1980s and 1990s. Based on an institutional framework it is suggested that the downsizing should be interpreted as reactions to broader changes in the dominant institutional logics of the field. Results of longitudinal quantitative analyses support this theory. Structural downsizings became more likely after a new logic was institutionalized and the structural changes gained legitimacy in the field. It is also suggested that municipal directors were important change agents, and that municipalities that hired new directors with a background outside municipalities were more likely to conduct more comprehensive organizational changes.

Asmus Leth Olsen | Absolute majority and the administrative influence on agenda setting

Does the local political leadership, in the form of absolute majority, affect the administration’s role in agenda setting? The question is analyzed with a survey from 2003 among 700 local councilors from 80 Danish municipalities. With a multi level model the presence of an absolute majority at the municipal level is linked to how councilors perceive the administration’s influence on the agenda. A set of different empirical models are proposed in order to test if a causal effect of an absolute majority can be isolated from both observable and unobservable differences between municipalities. The analyses indicate that the administration has less influence on the agenda in municipalities with an absolute majority. This is both due to lower perceived engagement from the administration and increased agenda setting influence for the mayor. Theoretically, the finding is seen as an example of competition between the political and the administrative level on setting the agenda.

Martin Bækgaard | The impact of administrative organization on politicians’ preference fullfilment

Do politicians’ preferences matter more under some conditions than under others? Using register data and survey responses from politicians and administrators in Danish municipalities, the article examines whether the impact of such preferences on public policy depends on the way the administration is organized, the assumption being that administrative organization defines what kind of information politicians are presented with. The article shows that politicians’ preferences have a considerable impact on public spending in municipalities using traditional sector-based models but no impact in municipalities using executive board models. The main implication of the findings is that the choice of administrative organization has considerable consequences for politicians’ possibilities of influencing public policy.

Morten Balle Hansen, Niels Opstrup and Anders Ryom Villadsen | An administrative elite changing. The collective profile of top management in Danish municipalities 1970-2008

The article examines how the background and career of municipal top managers have changed from 1970 to 2008 and whether the 2007 structural reform has had an impact on recent developments. The managers’ profiles is seen as an indicator of the sorting and promotion ‘rules’ of the career system in municipal administrations and how these ‘rules’ have changed over time. The analysis is based on survey data from 1980, 1992, 2006 and 2008. Four archetypes of municipal top managers are studied and compared: city managers, social managers, technical managers and managers with responsibility for children and cultural services. For the city managers population data covering the period 1970-2005 are also included in the analysis. The analysis illustrates how the career system in municipal administrations has evolved during the 30 year period where New Public Management was introduced and how the 2007 structural reform has influenced the new managers’ profiles. Four ideal-typical career paths are identified and the academic path has gradually become dominant. Within the period of analysis, there has been a development from profession-based management towards professional management in the municipalities. 

Pia Vedel Ankersen and Peter Munk Christiansen | Greenlandization. Greenland’s elite 2000-2009

The selection of elite groups is a demanding endeavor in micro states such as Greenland. With a small population the demand for independent elite groups is particularly challenging. Through the 00s the political, the administrative and the state-owned enterprise elites in Greenland have been Greenlandized in terms of nationality. The political elite group has come to resemble the population more in terms of education and trade. The Greenlandic elite groups are rather open and are recruited from a relatively broad part of the Greenlandic society, but Greenland confronts a democratic challenge because there are close cross-elite relations between the political elite, the administrative elite and the public sector business elite. 

Andreas Albertsen | Does luck egalitarianism let the Devil take the feckless hindmost?

Luck egalitarianism is an influential theory of distributive justice. It asserts that distributions are just if, and only if, how people fare relative to each other reflects their exercise of responsibility. This theory is often criticized for not being able to justify help to those who, because of their own choices, are unable to fulfill basic needs. The strength of this criticism is only superficial, since it is possible to keep people above a certain threshold of needs without abandoning central luck egalitarian values. This can be done via redistribution between those who take on similar risks but have different luck in such gambles.

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