Research programme (2014–2018) on completed and planned municipal reforms

ARTTU2 Research Programme

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The ARTTU2 Research Programme examined the impact on local authorities and municipal residents of the changes brought about by the implemented and planned municipal reforms. The research programme, coordinated by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, began in late 2014 and continued until early spring 2018. Forty cities and municipalities of different sizes and types across Finland participated in the programme.

The ARTTU2 Research Programme was a follow-up to a similar programme conducted between 2008 and 2012, which evaluated the restructuring of municipalities and services (the so-called PARAS reform). The ARTTU2 programme produced systematic and comparable research information on the impacts of two kinds of reforms: reforms targeting local government and reforms implemented by local authorities themselves. The programme examined the impact of these reforms on local government services and management, local democracy, municipal finances as well as on the urban structure and municipal vitality.

The research programme consisted of several sub-projects, which were carried out between 2014 and 2017. Each sub-project had its own timetable and clearly defined tasks.

The research programme was financed by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the cities and municipalities participating in the programme, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and other ministries. Finnish universities participated in the implementation of the sub-projects.

The cities and municipalities participating in the research

Forty cities and municipalities of different sizes and types across Finland participated in the ARTTU2 Research Programme. They were Askola, Espoo, Hattula, Hirvensalmi, Hollola, Hämeenlinna, Inari, Jyväskylä, Kankaanpää, Keitele, Kemiönsaari, Keuruu, Kokkola, Kotka, Kurikka, Kuusamo, Lappeenranta, Lempäälä, Liperi, Mikkeli, Mustasaari, Nivala, Oulu, Paltamo, Parkano, Petäjävesi, Pudasjärvi, Raasepori, Raisio, Rautalampi, Salo, Sipoo, Säkylä, Tampere, Tornio, Turku, Vaasa, Vantaa, Vimpeli and Vöyri.

 

The research programme's sub-projects

The ARTTU2 Research Programme consisted of several sub-projects. Below is an outline of four of the projects:

Survey on decision-makers

Åbo Akademi University and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities jointly carried out a survey on municipal decision-makers in spring 2017 and in autumn 2015.

The 2017 survey asked municipal decision-makers’ opinions on issues such as local decision-making, the municipal elections held in spring 2017 and the health, social services and regional government reforms being carried out in Finland. The survey also provided local authorities with research information for evaluating the term of office of the municipal council and for real-time evaluation of the health, social services and regional government reforms.

The survey was carried out electronically and explored the views of councillors, members of the local executive, chairpersons of municipal committees and leading officials in the cities and municipalities participating in the ARTTU2 Research Programme.

The participating cities and municipalities have received their individual results as well as reports on research outcomes.

Similar surveys on local decision-makers were conducted in 2010 as part of the ARTTU Research Programme launched to evaluate the project to restructure local government and services (known as PARAS reform), and in 1995, 1999 and 2003 within the Finnish Local Government 2004 Research Programme.

Survey on local residents

In spring 2017, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities conducted an extensive survey on local residents in the ARTTU2 research municipalities, gathering residents’ opinion on their municipality, its services, decision-making and participation. The survey provided local authorities with research information supporting their decision-making and operational development.

The survey questionnaire was mailed to 32,500 residents in the research municipalities, and it was also available for completion online.

The local resident survey 2017 was a follow-up to a similar survey carried out in spring 2015. Local resident surveys of equally wide scope have been carried out before within the Evaluation Research Programme ARTTU and the Finnish Local Government 2004 Research Programme.

Personnel as a strategic resource

The study Personnel as a strategic resource aimed to produce information and operating models for implementing sustainable reforms, managing change and human resources, changing the way we work and promoting job resources. The project also provided information on opportunities for municipal reform and on ways to encourage the culture of experimentation. The scientific novelty of the project lies in bringing together two lines of research, HR management and work engagement, which have not previously been explored together.

The research comprised two sub-projects, which were implemented by the University of Vaasa and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.  

Real-time evaluation of reforms

As part of the ARTTU2 Research Programme, a real-time evaluation (RTE) of the reforms was conducted between 2016 and 2017. The evaluation produced up-to-date information on the health, social services and regional government reforms and the future role and functions of cities and municipalities. The RTE research shared common aspects with the Change support programme and Municipalities 2021 programme run by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

The RTE research was started in autumn 2016 and completed at the end of 2017. The evaluation took a multiple-constituency approach, using the reform's working documents, questionnaires and group interviews as research material.

The research evaluated nine different aspects related to the following: the health and social services and regional government reforms, the processes to define future cities and municipalities, the success of the reforms, proposals for improvement, and the analysis of the reforms’ impacts. The nine aspects were: 1) the management of the reforms, 2) the timetable of the reforms, 3) the climate of the reforms, 4) the legislation on the reforms, 5) communication on the reforms, 6) change support for the reforms, 7) the success of the reforms, 8) proposals for development, and 9) future cities and municipalities.

The final report of the ARTTU2 Research Programme

This final report 'Finnish Local Government Reforms from a Research Perspective' summarises the findings of the ARTTU2 Research Programme, but also compiles results and lessons of the previous research programmes carried out by the Association of Local and Regional Authorities. The report has been prepared by the management of the ARTTU2 Research Programme; however, a large number of experts have contributed to writing the individual research reports drawn on for this report.

Contents of the report: 

  • Chapter 1 Introduction

PART I: The reforms from the local government sector perspective

  • Chapter 2 Local authorities and the reforms 
  • Chapter 3 Future prospects for local authorities during the preparation of the reforms 
  • Chapter 4 Municipal residents and the reforms 
  • Chapter 5 Municipal decision-makers and the reforms
  • Chapter 6 Personnel and the reforms

Part II The reforms - the past, present and future

  • Chapter 7 The findings and lessons from municipal reforms 1995-2018
  • Chapter 8 Is this really that difficult? Perspective to future local government reforms
     

You can find the complete report here.