Research programme (2014–2018) on municipal reforms so far implemented, and to be implemented, in Finnish municipalities

ARTTU2 Research Programme

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The ARTTU2 Research Programme examines the impact on municipalities and municipal residents of the changes brought about by past and future municipal reforms. The research programme, coordinated by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, began in late 2014 and is set to continue until early spring 2018. Forty municipalities of different size and type across Finland are participating in the programme.

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

The research programme consists of several sub-projects, scheduled to be carried out between 2014 and 2017. Each sub-project has its own timetable and clearly defined tasks.

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

The municipalities participating in the research

Forty municipalities across Finland, differing by type and size, are participating in the ARTTU2 programme. The municipalities are: 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 ARTTU2 Research Programme consists 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 local elections held in the same spring and the health, social services and regional government reform being carried out in Finland. The survey also provided municipalities with research information for evaluating council’s term of office and for real-time evaluation of the health, social services and regional government reform.

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

The participating municipalities will receive 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 provides local authorities with research information supporting their decision-making and operational development.T

The survey questionnaire was mailed to 32,500 residents in the ARTTU2 research municipalities, and it was also available for completion online.

The local resident survey 2017 is 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 seeks 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 provides information on means for municipal reform and promotion of the culture of experimentation. The project’s scientific novelty emerges from the way it brings together two lines of research, HR management and work engagement, which have not previously been explored together.

The research comprises two sub-projects, which are 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 is conducted between 2016 and 2017. The evaluation will regularly produce up-to-date information on the health, social services and regional government reform and the Municipality of the Future reform. The RTE research shares common aspects with the Change support programme and Municipalities 2021 programme run by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

The RTE research started in autumn 2016 and is to continue until the end of 2017. The evaluation takes a multiple-constituency approach, using the reform's working documents, questionnaires and group interviews as research material.

RTE research targets

The RTE research evaluates nine different aspects related to the health and social services and regional government reform and the Municipality of the Future reform processes, their success and impacts, and proposals for improvement.

RTE research targets are:  

  1. Management of reforms
  2. Timetable of reforms  
  3. Atmosphere of reforms
  4. Legislation on reforms
  5. Communication of reforms
  6. Change support for reforms
  7. Success of reforms
  8. Proposals for reform development
  9. Municipalities of the future