Nordic Openness in Practice

Loose Coupling of Government Communication and Policy-making in Finland

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Abstract

Due to the tradition of ‘Nordic openness’, and intensified by international trends, the norm of policy-making transparency is strong in Finland. Inspired by organizational institutionalism, the present article studies what this notion of transparency means in practice. A case study of a social security reform committee is presented. The consensus-building practices typical of Finnish corporatist policy-making significantly constrained the transparency of government communication during the lifetime of the committee. The government communicated actively in public to meet the demand for transparency; but in order to secure effective bargaining, the government communicated issues concerning the committee so vaguely that it did not inspire wide public discussion. Public discussion was instead mainly fuelled by leaks. These findings suggest that a strong norm of transparency can lead to ceremonial transparency, where government public communication is loosely coupled with policy-making practices. These ceremonies might strengthen the notion of Nordic openness.

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Nordicom Review

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CiteScore 2017: 0.61

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.380
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