Keeping the Discussion Among Civil Servants Alive: 'Platform of Values' as an Emerging Genre Within the Public Sector in Sweden




Platform of values, Critical genre analysis, Text, Civil servant, Management reform


A defining feature of contemporary public authorities in Sweden is the production of texts labelled platform of values or core values. Previous research points to three main factors contributing to this development: an increased interest in ethics in the public sector, new forms of management and control, and the importance of the external promotion of public authorities. This paper focuses on the perspective of civil servants when addressing the research question: What are the most important functions of ‘platform of values’ texts? The paper draws on two types of data – a focus group of senior HR officers and a quanti- tative survey for civil servants. Critical Genre Analysis is presented as a methodological framework for understanding ‘value texts’ as social actions. The results show that ‘plat- form of values’ practices are connected to the creation of the “ethically aware” civil servant; that neither their connection to control over civil servants nor to the external promotion of the authority are directly recognised, whereas their connection to goal achievement is; and that the role of the ‘value texts’ as such has been somewhat overrated in previous research – it is the dialogue about the values that matters.


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Author Biographies

Catharina Nyström Höög, Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University

Catharina Nyström Höög is professor of Swedish at Dalarna University (Högskolan Dalarna) and associated to Uppsala University, Department of Scandinavian Languages, as a researcher in charge of the project ”The archaeology of a new genre. Platform of values texts at public authorities in Sweden”, a project founded by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences 2016- 2018. Her previous research include projects on the comprehensibility of public sector texts, and studies of genre repertoires in upper secondary school writing.

Anders Björkvall, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University

Anders Björkvall is Professor of Swedish at the School of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences (HumES) at Örebro University, Sweden. His research interests range from multimodality, social semiotics, and discourse analysis to the ethnography of artefacts and texts. Anders has also published in the fields of literacy and learning, often with a focus on children’s semiotic uses of technology.




How to Cite

Nyström Höög, C., & Björkvall, A. (2018). Keeping the Discussion Among Civil Servants Alive: ’Platform of Values’ as an Emerging Genre Within the Public Sector in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 22(3), 17–38.

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