A close look at the region

In November 2015, the University of Borås was assigned the mission to evaluate the political organisation of Region Västra Götaland. Now, almost two years later, it is finished. A dozen of researchers, over 130 interviews, questionnaires, and numerous documents from the archives have created the basis that the region will use for improving the political organisation to the next term of office (starting 2019).

“During my 40 years as a researcher, I have never seen so much material”, Rolf Solli says, project manager and director of the Centre for Welfare Studies at the University of Borås.

Rolf Solli, professor of business administration, took charge when Lotta Dellve, the original leader of the project, changed jobs. The researchers have worked interdisciplinary (for example business administration, social work, information management, psychology, and working life science) to focus on ten questions formulated together with the region’s politicians at the start.

The results presented to the region in September are divided into three tracks. The first one concerns the role of politicians. According to the investigation, new politicians are regularly and without proper introduction handed difficult tasks, while more experienced politicians are given ‘simpler’ assignments.

“When we presented this to the region, many were surprised but our research is clear about it”, Rolf Solli says. “Scarce information and then being handed a tough assignment right away – no wonder new politicians drop out soon.”

Neither citizens nor politicians are particularly fond of meeting

The second track concerns the relationship between politicians and citizens. The dialogue that politicians are bound to have with their voters (and non-voters) is rarely enough, according to Rolf Solli.

“This is not about a lack of contact areas; there are square meetings and various activities where the public can meet the politicians. But the citizens rarely know that these activities happen, and few of those who know are interested.”

The results of the public dialogue were elaborated in collaboration with the SOM Institute in Gothenburg. The research team in Borås contributed with a few questions before last year’s major public survey.

“It seems that neither citizens nor politicians are particularly fond of meeting”, says Rolf Solli. “Many people feel that once they have voted for a politician, they have done their part. They rather spend their time doing something else.”

The third track is where Rolf Solli and the vice-chancellor of the University of Borås, Björn Brorström, evaluated the organisation that govern the region since 1999: a customer-performer model where the political public health committees are clients and the hospitals, healthcare centres etc. have executive boards. An outdated model, according to the results.

“So much have happened in the last 18 years. Most of all, these days we have a much greater freedom of choice when it comes to healthcare, allowing the user to order the care s/he wants. Also, money may come from the government that falls right through the organisation. The orders become more complicated, and the results difficult to predict. The model is falling apart.

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About Centre for welfare studies

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Text Christian Naumanen
Photo Ulf Nilsson and Region Västra Götaland