GOVERNANCE

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Strategic and agile governments solve wicked problems and implement structural reforms

Society cannot be reformed without transforming central government and its governance model. Combating climate change, developing preventive healthcare and the transformation of working life are major issues that require long-term co-operation between governments and across terms of government.

Our central government was not built to meet the needs of a global, multi-polar, interdependent and rapidly changing world. Our ability to complete structural reforms is hindered by the fact that the toolkit we are using to fix the new world was designed for the old world.

For a small country driven by exports, such as Finland, capacity for renewal is nothing less than vital. In order to be able to cope in the face of intensifying global competition, we have to be more strategic and agile than bigger countries.

Sitra has long been studying ways of renewing the governance model of the welfare society.

Governments for the Future – Building the Strategic and Agile State (2014) focuses on the administrative problems of Western societies – and proves that they can be solved. According to the authors of the publication, Sitra’s President Mikko Kosonen and Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management Yves Doz, a state can become strategic and agile in its approach by resolving the following three issues:

  • decision-making must be based on a well-conducted, information-based analysis of the operating environment and a vision for the future;
  • central government must utilise and target its limited resources efficiently and flexibly; and
  • the government must commit collectively to making decisions and commitments that are holistically optimal.

Sitra’s paper Five proposals for Finland (in Finnish) also provides a framework for the strategic government programme needed to secure Finnish well-being, develop business activities and guide the economy and employment towards a growth path.

Governing the welfare state and beyond – Solutions for a complex world and uncertain future (2016) is a continuation of Sitra’s previous work under the development programmes for public administration management and central government. The paper describes how to make the transition from a reactive welfare state towards a proactive and sustainable well-being society. Written by Senior Lead Eeva Hellström and Sitra’s President Mikko Kosonen, together with a European working group from the Vision Europe Summit consortium, the paper suggests five approaches.

  1. Developing governance capacities for strategic and agile states
  2. Adopting phenomena-based and human-centric welfare policies
  3. Strengthening the democratic base of the welfare state
  4. Renewing the role of the state in welfare provision
  5. Steering the EU towards a legitimate social agenda.

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