The Kainuu Regional Experiment: Deliberate and unintended effects of scaling local government tasks to the regional level

Arto Haveri, Jenni Airaksinen, Anni Jäntti


This article examines the deliberate and unintended effects of the Kainuu Regional Experiment, a regional reform where some important local government tasks were rescaled to the regional level. The analysis is based on the empirical results of a long-running evaluation study.

In Kainuu, the new regional government was successful in securing the quality and availability of welfare services, but in the task of regional development ‒ creating new growth and development ‒ its role has been practically secondary, and in some cases the new regional government has been marginalised by the tensions built into it during the rescaling process. The Kainuu experiment exemplifies a case of rescaling where some (political) tensions between two perspectives/factors, service and development, were rescaled together with local government functions, reflecting the reformer’s problem that it is extremely difficult to achieve many different outcomes with one governance expedient. Altering the scale of governance has consequences for political decision-making, power structures, institutions, and citizens. Rescaling through a restructuring of hierarchy may produce different outcomes in different activities, and the coercive character of the tool can both create unexpected tensions and undermine network activity.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

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

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