Inconsistent regional policies complicate work practices

Apr 26, 2012 | Research/Cooperation

The character of regional development policy has largely changed in recent times, with a shift from central management to increasingly greater regional autonomy. Economic growth is often emphasised but other values are also highlighted as being of importance. The belief that one can steer societal development through state intervention is strong, but at the same time the logic behind how it is thought that these efforts are going to work is, in principle, never made clear.

It is precisely this that Lina Stenmark brings to attention in presenting her doctoral thesis, and here it is based on one specific regional political venture: the Resource Centres for Women. This venture, which has existed since the mid-1990s in all the counties, arose from the realisation that women had been disadvantaged in regional politics. The basic idea was to meet up with the specific needs and prerequisites of women by means of regionally and locally adapted activities.

The thesis, entitled “The Logic of Regional Development in Policy and Practice. A case study of the regional political intervention, Resource Centres for Women”, shows how regional politics, in the form of the policy behind the intervention, rests on contradictory underlying logics, which those who implement the policy then in their turn have to balance. This is something which in many cases gives rise to organisational problems in this work.  One important conclusion in the thesis is that there is a need for greater awareness of what logics the policy is actually based on, not least in order to create better conditions for those who are to realise the ambitions prescribed in different policy programmes. As it appears in the case on which the thesis is based, it is precisely these contradictions in policy that in themselves constitute an important explanation for many organisational problems.
- Very substantial resources and a lot of effort are put into steering societal development in various directions, but at the same time very little focus is placed on the actual logic behind these efforts. It’s really remarkable, says Lina Stenmark, who is of the opinion that there is a lot to be gained by a greater awareness.

Lina Stenmark will be publicly defending her thesis on 27 April at 10.00 in the Gamma Hall at Mälardalen University, Västerås. You are cordially invited to come!