Ambiguities of Accountability and Attention – Analyzing the Failure of a Preventive Security Project

Per Lægreid, Tom Christensen, Lise H. Rykkja


The article examines the failed implementation of a Security Project initiated by the Norwegian government prior to the terrorist attacks in 2011. It analyzes interviews with central government actors and uses two perspectives from organization theory to explain why the project failed. From an instrumental perspective, the failure might be explained by a conscious lack of attention or commitment. From a ‘garbage can’ perspective, the failure might be explained by a lack of collective instrumental rationality. Taking both perspectives into account, inherent ambiguities in horizontal and vertical accountability and a lack of attention influenced both by formal rules and informal practices are the main explanations. The prevalence of local democratic values, a lack of central political involvement and a generally slow administrative process contributed considerably to this.

Full Text: PDF

Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413