Why Are the Citizens Reluctant to Respond to the Administrative Reforms: Metaevaluation of the Strategies and Trends of the Public Management Reforms in Finland in the 1990's

Markku Temmes


The tensions between the administrative reform plans and their impact on effectiveness and legitimation of the politico-administrative system have both theoretically and practically been important and interesting questions in administrative sciences. The aim of this article is firstly to give a comprehensive evaluation summary of the profile and success or failure of the administrative reforms in the 1990's in Finland. Heavy economic depression and changes in international environment with the collapse of Soviet Union and membership in the European Union caused an active reform wave in the Finnish public administration. The main target of the reformers was to modernise the structures, steering systems and administrative culture of the administrative machinery to meet new challenges of administration. The international New Public Management (NPM) doctrine had clear impact on Finnish reform activities. These reforms have been successful in causing many real changes in Finnish administration. In spite of that, the citizen reactions have been passive and even negative concerning legitimation of the modernised administration. In this article there are some considerations of the reasons and backgrounds of citizen response and trust in the NPM-type administrative reforms. Partly the citizen response seems to be slow and depending more of real changes in every day life than political reform decisions. Partly it seems to be a “winners’ and losers’ game” in which the losers' response is loud and even aggressive and winners are mainly passive. In fact the case of Finland shows how much NPMtype reform programme can be described as a structural and cultural renovation of systems which can create more efficiency and service-orientation in the administration, but these impacts are instrumental, indirect and time taking.


administrative reform; citizens participation; new public management

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603