Keeping the Discussion Among Civil Servants Alive: 'Platform of Values' as an Emerging Genre Within the Public Sector in Sweden

Catharina Nyström Höög, Anders Björkvall


A defining feature of contemporary public authorities in Scandinavia end elsewhere is the production of texts labelled platform of values or core values. Previous research has pointed to at least three factors contributing to this development: an increased interest in the ethics in the public sector, new forms of management and control, and the importance of the external promotion of public authorities. This paper presents an analysis of how different groups of civil servants in Sweden perceive and use "platform of values" texts as part of their professional practices. The paper draws on two types of data - a focus group with senior HR officers and a quantitative survey to civil servants. Critical Genre Analysis is presented as a methodological framework for understanding "value texts" as social actions. The results show that platform of values practices are connected to the creation of the "ethically aware" public servant; that neither their connection to control over civil servants nor to the external promotion of the authority are directly recognised, whereas their connection to goal achievement is; and that the role of the "value texts" as such has been somewhat overrated in previous research - it is the dialogue about the values that matter.

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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