Reform in Translation: The Swedish Transport Administration’s Quest for a New Mission Statement

Authors

  • Hans Rämö Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University
  • Eva Wittbom Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University

Keywords:

identity, public-sector reform, societal developer, Swedish transport administration, translation model

Abstract

The long-term outcomes of reform processes in the public sector remain understudied in the literature. This study investigates the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) employees’ and managers’ translation and internalization of their new role as societal developers. Since the STA’s founding in 2010 and until 2018, the STA head office neither guided nor centrally determined how to define and understand the STA’s role as a societal developer. We examine this internalization process through the lens of Czarniawska’s translation model of the distribution of ideas as a collective creation through local translation and adaptation. The study shows that the ongoing friction that occurs when the concept and role of a societal developer are discussed and disseminated within an organization is influenced by prevailing identities and local action nets. It also shows that the translation of this new role eventually failed, due to either it being submerged within already-existing concepts or it having a perceived lack of relevance. We conducted this mixed-method study over six years (2016–2021) using documentary analysis, workshop participation, interviews and a survey.

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Author Biographies

Hans Rämö, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University

Hans Rämö is Associate Professor at Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Sweden. His research interests include temporal and spatial factors of management and organizing in relation to communication, networks, philosophy and sociology of science, and sustainability.

Eva Wittbom, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University

Eva Wittbom is Assistant Professor in Business Administration at Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Sweden. As director of The Academy of Management Accounting and Control in Central Government her research interests include critical perspectives in public sector management control.

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Published

2022-12-15

How to Cite

Rämö, H., & Wittbom, E. (2022). Reform in Translation: The Swedish Transport Administration’s Quest for a New Mission Statement. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 26(4), 19–46. Retrieved from https://publicera.kb.se/sjpa/article/view/10579

Issue

Section

Original Articles