Mergers of semi-autonomous central agencies: The Swedish trajectory and the case of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


As the number of autonomous executive agencies increases, some countries have started merging agencies, thereby aiming to reduce fragmentation and cut public spending. These mergers have passed conspicuously unnoticed in research. In Sweden, the current wave of agency mergers started in the 1990ies. This paper aims to (1) give a background to the Swedish trajectory with agency mergers and to (2), based on a case study, explore some key problems which have hampered implementation. Finally (3), the paper suggests a set of constraints for managerial discretion in agency mergers. The case study is focused on the reformation of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (SSIA) during the 9 year period 2004-2012. The paper suggests that the mergers in Sweden not only represent institutional changes, but also an ideological change, where agencies become more formalized, centralized and distanced in relation to both clients and employees – but closer in relation to the principal. Observations from the SSIA also support this suggestion. Finally, a key problem in the SSIA merger was a controversy between the agency management and the ministry concerning whether policy changes should be given precedence over internal restructurings or not. The priority of policy implementation is one of the four constraints suggested in the paper.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration
  • Economics and Business


  • Agency mergers, mergers, public reform, policy implementation, change management, agencification
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
EventEGPA (European Group for Public Administration) - Bergen
Duration: 2012 Sep 52012 Sep 8


ConferenceEGPA (European Group for Public Administration)