Administration Society


FORTE: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project type


Within Increasing number of sectors of Swedish society there is heard complaints and comments about the increasing administrative burden. As never before people I both private and public organizations are involved in planning, reporting, auditing, meeting and directing. At the same time all of this is made in the most praiseworthy purpose - to save money and streamline in order to get as much output as possible of the resources. But the development seems contrary pointing at the opposite direction. Productivity goes down. Within healthcare, the number of care hours decreases, the police can handle less crime and school hours are going down. At the same time people in the organizations are working overtime and the staff feels overwhelmed by work.

In recent years there have been numerous reports of increased administrative workload from different parts of the public administration, including the courts, from colleges and universities, from the police, from medical care and from school. But it's not only increases the administrative work that has been reported, the forms of the administrative work seems also to be in flux. For example, we know that computing and information technology have changed the context for much administrative work. Meanwhile, the needs of direct-to-people contacts remain large: meetings and conferences, has hardly become rarer. Preliminary results from an ongoing project suggest that administrative work is "pushed" down in the organizational hierarchies, and thus brings in more and more of the staff into the administrative work (Forssell and Ivarsson-Westerberg 2000). Instead of administrative "experts" as secretaries and office staff of various kinds, it seems now as if the administrative work is increasingly done by "amateurs", ie all of us: nurses, teachers, judges, scientists, policemen, doctors, etc.. Some of these changes are likely to be unintended consequences of the great savings and the complexity of organizational change - the "public reformation," as we called it (Forssell and Jansson 2000) - in the 90s.

We think we are therefore able to see three trends:
1) An increased administrative workload in general
2) changing forms of the administrative work, where the use of computer and information technology is one example, and
3) A change in the distribution of the administrative work, which means that it is pushed downwards and outwards in the organizations.

The purpose of the proposed project is to study these trends, particularly with a view to describing, mapping and explaining the changing administration.

Anders Forssell, Uppsala universitet

Research area / geographic area

Historical and Contemporary Studies Social Sciences Business Studies The Academy of Public Administration The Institute of Contemporary History Politics, Economy and the Organisation of Society

Project time

2009 — 2014


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