Managing profits and professionalism in the Swedish school system

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During the last 25 years the elementary school sector in Sweden has undergone radical change due to decentralization and deregulation. The logic of professionalism in the organizational structure of the public professional bureaucracy has been challenged, giving way for more of market logic. In tandem, at least from year 2000, the results in the PISA ranking have declined dramatically, leading the OECD to claim that Sweden’s school system is in need of urgent change. This combined development was the most debated issue during the 2014 election campaign, dividing political parties and citizens into two rather digital positions - pro or con profits in the sector. Hardly surprising, the analysis of the arguments in the public debate shows that the non- profit arguments are closely related to the logic of the traditional public professional bureaucracy, whereas the pro-profit arguments are to a large extent related to the logic of the free market. However, the political establishment wants to go a third, pragmatic way, blending the two logics. This puts, it is concluded, demand on the local management of schools to develop a management control competence that simultaneously meets and balances the logic of professionalism expressed in the school law and the demand for attractiveness and financial healthiness that comes with acting on a (quasi-) market. Surprisingly, the effect of political decisions on these local management control matters is absent in the debate
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModernizing the Public Sector
Subtitle of host publicationScandinavian perspectives
EditorsIrvine Lapsley, Hans Knutsson
Place of PublicationOxon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-67594-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameRoutledge critical studies in public management

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


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