Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Discretion: an art of the possible : education committees in the Swedish system of government
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
1991 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Discretion is commonly analyzed as the scope for choice set by formal superiors. This study aims at developing an alternative theory of discretion which also takes into account the assumptions of the actors in implementing positions. The theory is constructed with the purpose of being an empirical tool for analyzing discretion on a nation-wide basis and in a central-local government context. It concerns two main questions: to what extent does discretion vary and how can this variation be explained? The theory section concludes with a number of empirically testable hypotheses.

The concept of discretion is defined as the scope for choice available to actors, in formally subordinate positions, vis-à-vis their superiors. It is seen as a special case of autonomy, as it is attributed to subordinates and primarily concerns one dimension of autonomy, namely freedom of action.

In the second half of the study, the theory is applied empirically to the discretion available to Swedish local government Education Committees. A questionnaire study of all Education Committee Chairpersons and Chief Education Officers and in-depth interviews of a selected sample of these have been undertaken.

The empirical study clearly indicates that there is variation in discretion. In spite of the uniformity of the system of governing local education, it is found that the limits for discretion are set differently by different Education Committee representatives.

The variation follows a pattern which has been, at least partly, reconstructed. Variables which appear as important in explaining variation include: the extent to which the control system is regarded as efficient; the size and population density of the local authority; and individual traits such as length of experience and gender. However, our analysis also shows that these explanations are more valid in certain contexts than in others, which points the way for further research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1991. , 201 p.
Forskningsrapporter i statsvetenskap vid Umeå universitet, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 5
Keyword [en]
Discretion, autonomy, central-local government relations, local government, education policies, Education Committees, actors' perspective
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-62936OAI: diva2:580309
Available from: 2012-12-21 Created: 2012-12-21 Last updated: 2012-12-21Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(6806 kB)441 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT02.pdfFile size 6806 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Lidström, Anders
By organisation
Department of Political Science
Political Science

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 441 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 121 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link