The Nordic supermodels: New book on Nordic administrative reforms

New book explores why the Nordic countries have seemed so successful in their approach to the public sector. One of the editors of the book is CBS researcher Carsten Greve.


Nordic Administrative Reforms – Lessons for Public Management
(Copyright © Antony McAuley/

The five Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, are often viewed as role models when it comes to welfare arrangements – and they rank consistently high in well-known indexes as the World Bank Governance Indicators and the OECD Better Life Index.

The new book Nordic Administrative Reforms – Lessons for Public Management examines, what makes countries from around the world look to the Nordic countries in order to build prosperous, well-governed, and liberal democracies.

Professor Carsten Greve, Department of Business and Politics, CBS, is one of the editors of the book:

“The main finding is that the Nordic governments take a pragmatic approach to public management reform. The Nordic countries have not adopted all of the New Public Management ideas, neither have they remained purely bureaucratic and static in the Traditional Public Administration-way.  Instead, the Nordic model of public administration reform is a dynamic approach where new trends of management are incorporated into the governments, while maintaining the basic foundations of the Nordic welfare states.  The Nordic countries are active and responsible reformers,” Greve says.

One of the largest empirical projects about reforms
The book is based on a unique data set and assesses in comparative terms the public management reforms in the five Nordic countries. It rests on a survey sent to public sector executives in 19 European countries. So far, one of the largest empirical projects conducted in Europe about reforms.

Based on the assessments of administrative executives, the book compares the Nordic countries with the Anglo-Saxon, the Germanic, the Napoleonic and the East European group of countries.

In the introduction the three editors of the book ,Carsten Greve, Per Lægreid, and Lise H. Rykkja, write:

“There are many dimensions of good government. In this book, we explore the nature of the government apparatus and its administrative capability, and address the processes, content, and effects of contemporary administrative reforms.” 

The book addresses the following questions: What reform trends are relevant in the public administrations of the Nordic countries? What institutional features characterize the state authorities in these countries?  What characterizes the role identity, self-understanding, dominant values, and motivation of administrative executive in the Nordic countries? What characterizes reform processes, trends and content, what is the relevance of different types of management instruments, and what are their perceived effects and the perceived performance of the public administration?

It also examines how the different Nordic countries dealt with the financial crisis of 2008, and how the differences and similarities in their approaches can be explained. 

Nordic Administrative Reforms – Lessons for Public Management is edited by Carsten Greve, Per Lægreid og Lise H. Rykkja.


Carsten Greve,, is professor at Department of Business and Politic at CBS.


Click for access to the e-book version of the book  (Notice: If you are not a CBS student or employee, you can only access the e-book from CBS Library at campus).


Purchase the e-book version of the book at Academic Books.


The page was last edited by: CBS Library // 04/25/2018