OECD Territorial Reviews: Sweden 2010

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This review of regional policy in Sweden finds that Sweden has recently renewed focus on promoting development opportunities in all regions and has introduced a gradual regionalisation process with a strong bottom-up approach. Yet challenges remain, particularly concerning knowledge diffusion and urban-rural linkages. Further efforts to achieve critical mass and improve co‑ordination can help better address local needs. This Review explores the potential for enhanced innovation and entrepreneurship in both urban and rural areas and provides recommendations to strengthen Sweden’s regional development strategies through improved governance mechanisms, both regionally and across levels of government.



Reconsidering Multi-level Governance Arrangements for more Effective Regional Development

Whether Sweden can still achieve growth and equity objectives in the future will largely depend on its capacity to set in motion a virtuous circle based on synergies among sectoral policies at the regional scale. This calls for a collaborative process of policy design and implementation involving all levels of government. Sweden’s multi level governance system has sometimes been compared to an “hourglass”, as it combines a highly decentralised system for the provision of welfare services with a relatively centralised system for strategic planning and regional development. In addition to external and structural constraints, institutional challenges can hamper the effective implementation of regional development policy objectives. This chapter is divided in two sections. The first section assesses the key strengths and challenges of Swedish governance arrangements for achieving its twin objectives of sustained territorial equity and enhanced regional growth. The second section seeks responses to challenges for bridging co ordination gaps across policies at the regional level, further empowering regional actors for regional growth policy and enhancing cost effective local public services.


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