Public management and policy-making in small states

Külli Sarapuu and Tiina Randma-Liiv  – Tallinn University of Technology, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance.

Abstract: Although small is often taken to be beautiful or easy to handle, small states live with a number of governance paradoxes and unavoidable trade-offs in practice. The chapter seeks to unpack the constraints and opportunities that result from a relatively small population size, including the small size of the public administration. It offers a rare systematic overview of the core characteristics of small state public administrations, the limitations and opportunities that accompany them, and their impact on small state governance. The discussion focuses on four core components of public administration systems that have been at the centre of public management reforms in the last decades; public sector organisation, personnel management, performance measurement, and openness and transparency.

Keywords: bureaucracy, civil service, governance, human resource constraints, personnel systems, public administration, small states

Published in: G. Baldacchino & A. Wivel (eds.) Research Handbook on the Politics of Small States. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing,  pp. 55-69.


Published in: Teorija in Praksa, let. 56, 2/2019

The article analyses EU small states’ border policies in response to the European migration crisis from the summer of 2015 to March 2016, when the Western Balkan route was closed. Migration system theory and the theory of policy convergence are applied to study migration from a small-state perspective. Changes within the EU system and their influence on such states’ border policies, the difference between destination and transit small states, along with small states’ foreign policy strategies are addressed in particular. The dilemma for small states is between harmonising with the established EU policies or projecting autonomy by making certain unilateral moves while dealing with migrant flows at the borders. This article contributes to the scarce literature on migration from a small-state perspective, especially by analysing the experiences and dilemmas they share and the challenges arising from migrations. Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Denmark and Sweden are used as case studies.
Tiina Randma-Liiv and Külli Sarapuu – Tallinn University of Technology, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance.
This chapter examines the issues and challenges facing small states. It points out that the challenges are often of an entirely different order to those faced by larger polities and that the lack of resources, especially human resources, is a limiting factor to the ability to change and modernize. They note there is a dearth of published research on small states and that the notion of what constitutes a small state is itself often a contested concept. They make the pertinent point that small countries are not simply smaller versions of larger ones. The chapter argues that as well as there being a qualitatively different nature to small states, the research needs to reflect this and explore notions and concepts of democracy from a small state perspective.
Published in: Andrew Massey (ed.) A Research Agenda for Public Administration. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 162-179.
  • This book addresses salient current issues in public administration research. It seeks to suggest where future research may or indeed ought to be focussed. To advocate the future routes for the development of research, this book is divided into themes, with a clear overlap between different approaches. The book has contributions that will assist students of public administration/public sector management and public policy, especially new PhD students, but will also be a useful resource for more established researchers to understand the major emerging issues within the field.

Danila Rijavec and Primož Pevcin – University of Ljubljana

Published in: Central European Pubic Administration Review, 16(1), pp. 81-98. 2018.
The paper presents the value added to the analysis of the functioning of multi-level governance in the context of EU. Furthermore, it contributes to the small state studies, as the mitigation of crisis from the perspective of small state is analysed. The aim of the research was to determine whether the multi-level governance during the large-scale crisis was successful and what factors affected the level of success. The analysis utilizes of the case study method, where the crisis responses during the peak of Western Balkan migration route and Slovenia as a small state on Schengen border serve as examples of examination and evaluation. Results show unsuccessfulness of multi-level governance during the crisis, with mostly top-down direction of decision-making, and particularly the sub-national level being poorly involved into the process. In addition, also layering of policy creation and implementation can be observed. The results of the analysis also pointed out that the multi-level governance in the case of migration crisis on the Western Balkans Route can be positioned as the type 1 governance, if we follow the outline of Hooghe and Marks (2003). The results indicate that unsuccessful multi-level governance had negative impacts on managing the crisis, as well as on perceptions about EU and Schengen Zone. This study is novel in its content, as it represents the first examination and evaluation of multi-level governance during the EU migration crisis, where Western Balkan route and Slovenia as small state on the outer Schengen zone border serve as a case study for the evaluation.

Professor Anders Wivel – University of Copenhagen

Published in: Global Affairs, Vol. 4, 2018 – Issue 4-5
Since the early Cold War Denmark has been part of a cluster of Nordic states characterized by their commitment to Scandinavian welfare state values at home and abroad. However, today Danish foreign policy is at the same time super-Nordic, un-Nordic and anti-Nordic. The role of Nordicness in Danish foreign policy has been largely overlooked in the literature on post-Cold War Danish foreign policy, but I identify four different roles for Nordicness in Danish foreign policy: forerunner, follower, bridge builder and exceptionalist. I explore each of these roles discussing what they tell us about the role of Nordicness in Danish foreign policy, and how the roles play out in different issue areas and to which extent the importance of each role has changed over time. I argue that while each role depicts Denmark as a fringe Nordic country, Nordicness continues to play an important, but mostly uncredited, as a source of ideas for Danish foreign policy.

A Theory of Shelter: Iceland’s American Period (1941-2006)

Professor Baldur Thorhallsson , Sverrir Steinsson and Thorsteinn Kristinsson – University of Iceland

Published in: Scandinavian Journal of History, 2018

This article is predicated on the assumption that small states need economic, political and societal shelter in order to prosper, and applies this theory to the case of Iceland in the period 1941–2006 – from the American occupation of Iceland to the closure of the US military base in the country. The authors argue that Iceland enjoyed essential shelter, for its development and prosperity, from the United States. The US also provided extensive diplomatic and military backing to Iceland, and profoundly influenced societal affairs in the country. Furthermore, Iceland received extensive societal shelter from the Nordic states, and economic and political shelter from international organizations. However, American and Nordic shelter did not come without costs.

A small state in world politics: Iceland’s search for shelter

Professor Baldur Thorhallsson – University of Iceland

Published in: Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration. Vol. 14, Issue 1. 2018. Special issue on power and democracy in Iceland (61-82)

The aim of this paper is to determine Iceland’s foreign policy options in relation to shelter theory. Iceland has been seeking political and economic shelter ever since the United States deserted it in 2006, by closing its military base, and in 2008, by refusing to provide it with assistance following its economic collapse. Iceland has made several new security and defence arrangements with its neighbouring states, applied for membership of the European Union and was the first European country to make a free-trade agreement with China. Moreover, the president of Iceland pressed for closer political and economic ties with Russia. Prominent Icelandic politicians frequently claim that Brexit will create a number of opportunities for Iceland and lead to closer cooperation with Britain. However, Iceland has not yet secured shelter of an extent comparable to what it had enjoyed from the United States. In this paper, we will answer questions such as: What does shelter theory tell us about Iceland’s overseas relations with the US, NATO, the EU, Britain, Russia, China, and the Nordic states? Will Iceland receive more reliable shelter provided by multilateral organizations than by a single shelter provider?