Compare and Contrast Essay on Public Administration in Sweden and China

Published: 2021-07-30 20:28:27
1661 words
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Wesleyan University
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An efficient and effective public administration strengthens and promotes good governance and democracy. It is essential for a country to have an efficiently functioning civil service to ensure that leaders who have been elected democratically protect citizens' rights and sanction various ways to mobilize resources to pay wages and salaries and provide services in a republic. A democratic government requires an administrative capacity to enable it to uphold the rule of law. Moreover, an effective public service delivery system increases the political legitimacy of a government (Peters, 2002, p.11). This can be achieved through putting structures in place to enhance the accessibility of the public officials to the locals, and ensuring that government departments and agencies cooperate and complement each other. Besides, it is essential for the government to have adequate capacity to govern through designing and implementing critical actions and programs and formulate important policies that are capable of anticipating emerging challenges and trends (Peters and Pierre, 2001, p.133). However, the capacity of a public sector organization to undertake and perform these roles requires transparency, meritocracy, and the rule of law, commitment, accountability, and effectiveness (Pierre, 2003, p.6). Therefore, this paper will analyse public administration in Sweden and China in light of the above factors.

Public Administration and Democratic Governance

Public administration's role in governance continues to elicit heated debate and discussion. The ensuing global wide reassessment of public officials and state functions emanate from two critical sources. The first source is globalization and its influence in directing the government on what needs to be done to adhere and respond to the rapid changes that characterize international commerce, technology, and socio-political trends (Pierre, 1993, p.375). The second source relates to the rising people's dissatisfactions with government functions provided by public administration institutions.

The move towards global integration, interaction, and interdependence between organizations and people across national borders has resulted in increased transactions between nations regarding trade and investment. It has also enhanced international flows of technology, people, and capital. However, statistics show that with the emergence and expansion of technological innovations and considerable access to communication channels, the demands and expectations of the people in most countries across the globe have continued to rise, with the desire for better governance (Pierre, 2003, p.54).

Consequently, the rising expectations of the citizens have invariably resulted in lack of trust of growth in the levels of people's dissatisfactions in the capability of their governments. Various empirical studies suggest that Western management scientists and political scientists introduce the "governance" concept to replace government following a state failure and a market failure concerning issues related to allocation of social resources. Market failure, on the one hand, implies that a government is unable to attain Pareto Optimality (Hughes, 2012, p.37). Nonetheless, in the attempt to address these inequalities, Sweden and China have different approaches to engaging their citizens to bring about a sustainable solution. Sweden often has a discussion and consultative forums where it engages with the citizens. However, China is a different case. Although accountability and transparency have become major themes in China, public engagement forums have not permeated the republic.

Despite the concepts of transparency, accountability, inclusion, and participation becoming mainstream in the Republic of China, the consensus is still elusive. Human rights and democracy crusaders often embrace an explicit political understanding of these concepts, but they fear to adopt pure instrumentalist of technocratic approaches (Peters, 2002, p.14). Specialists in good governance have a narrower path left to follow in applying primary principles to seek effectiveness in service delivery within the Chinese public sector.

Public Administration in Sweden

The government agencies in Sweden have the responsibility to implement the Riksdag (ombudsman) and government decisions. These provide the need for a public administration to ensure efficiency, legal security and should be able to provide maximum benefit to companies and citizens. The Swedens Fundamental Laws regulate the form of government within the country (Peters and Pierre, 2001, p.135). These rules are special in Swedish society as their outlay the rules of conduct for all players within the society to enhance good governance. These also bestow responsibility on the government to undertake the activities that fall within their jurisdiction.

Moreover, the Swedish public administration has a well-spelt out system for developing efficiency in service delivery by the central government. The Public administration for democracy is a government bill that regulates the efforts of the central government to develop administration to ensure growth and public participation in national affairs.

Features of Swedish Public Administration

Accountability and transparency

The primary distinctive feature of the Swedish public administration is the emphasis it lays on accountability and transparency. The government of Sweden was perhaps the first nation on earth to establish the principle of public access to official documents. This principle is quite old, dating back to 1766 when Swedish government enacted the Freedom of Press Act (Peters, 1999, p.78). No any other government on earth had established freedom of access to official documents by this period. The principle provides that any document produced by a public agency, entering, leaving, or that it stored within the agency is a public document that any member of the public can access at their convenience.

The Swedish culture, much as the legal dimension promotes openness that is manifested in politics and bureaucracy. In fact, the Swedish people believe that the documents classified by the government as secret merely reminds the politicians to think critically before disclosing the contents of such documents to the general public (Pierre, 2003, p.73). The process of requesting to access the government information also has a critical aspect. The individual requesting to access the document does not need to disclose their intentions and can remain anonymous. The Freedom of Press Act is also a corollary principle that entitles all individuals anonymity when providing the press with information and requires journalists to conceal the identity of such persons (Hughes, 2012, p.44). Swedish public administration also prohibits any public employer or agency from searching for the whistle-blowers' identities as well as offering them immunity from prosecution.

Accountability and transparency principle is one of the critical components of the New Public Management reform ideas. However, the office of the ombudsman has the responsibility of ensuring that accountability predates the NPM movement (Pierre, 1993, p.394). The office of the ombudsman is concerned with monitoring civil servants and administrative agencies to ensure that they uphold the law, general standards and regulations while in the course of performing their mandates.

Moreover, each public administrative agency falls under a particular ministry and reports directly to the government. This is a collegiality norm established by the government to guides its decision-making process; all ministries to take all decisions from the government jointly and not by individual ministers. Salaries and wages of the key personnel in the government are determined by the Swedish labour market but within the precincts of the law.

Sweden is a unitary state with powers emanating from the legislature arm of the government (Peters, 1999, p.93). Nonetheless, a lot of legislative power has been delegated to the local-level municipalities and regional-level county councils, referred to as communes. These communes acquire their strength from the constitution and through the fact that the citizens directly elect local and regional level representatives to the communes.

Features of Chinese Public Administration

The Chinese government takes issues of accountability and transparency quite seriously particularly when the case at hand relates to anticorruption and good governance. However, the government does not prefer transparency over and above regulation when dealing with issues related to accountability. The Chinese government holds that the public has limited energy, knowledge and skills; and thus cannot evaluate public institution information (Pierre, 2003, p.98). This, the government believes creates an illusion of openness while in actual sense it obfuscates it.

In a sense, this looks good considering how the Swedish transparency agenda has influenced accountability in some public institutions. For instance, some of the previous investigations published in the Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish daily exposed possible illegalities and improprieties in less competitive tendering processes such as the Stockholm Country Hospital food procurement saga. In this case, the investigations suggested that the processes were rigged to favour one of the largest firms and the organization did not publish any evaluation report until the contract was awarded when the journalists began their probe (Peters, 1999, p.117). Therefore, as suggested by the Chinese government, some of these data are quite complex and cannot be easily understood by the ordinary people with little conceptual information. Therefore, without expert skills, such a practice may end up exacerbating impunity and hindering accountability in the public administration.

Nonetheless, it is quite evident that accountability and transparency principles institutionalized by the Swedish public administration have been beneficial in dealing with cases of improprieties and possible illegalities, as in the process assist in eliminating or keeping incidences of corruption at a bare minimum. Adopting the Chinese informal strategy is likely to exacerbate corruption and bad governance while the Swedish model promotes good governance (Pierre, 1993, p.371). The Swedish structure protects whistleblowers and enhances anonymity of state officers and civil servants who provide critical information the press while China prefers an informal model of transparency.

The economy of China began to develop at the end of 1978 when the government started to embrace public administration reforms. These changes were able to assist the country in overcoming challenges related to globalization, technological advancements, and global competitions. The government started to push for large-scale administrative reforms to enhance effective service delivery and promote good governance. It was until the early 1980s when the government realized the significance of good governance in the development of the country (Guang, 2008, p.5). Thus, the government initiated the Government Organizational Reform in for distinctive stages to address the internal crises and external challenges. For instance, the government promulgated an aspirational constitution in 1982, which purportedly invested all power on the public. Besides, this constitution promised resounding civil rights such as freedom of association, press and religious grouping (Peters, 2002, p.15). Nonetheless, it is quite clear that the country's political system is replete with flaws. It is even pretentious for the Pe...

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