Licentiate Thesis

Reporting and Control in Focus: A Study of the Swedish Public Employment Service’s Evaluations

In December 2008 I started postgraduate studies in Social Work at Örebro University. My studies are now completed. On May 12, 2017, I successfully defended my Licentiate Thesis at the Örebro University.

The opponent was Jürgen Degner PhD.

My Supervisors were Elinor Brunnberg PhD (1948-2017), Senior Professor in Social Work and Mats Ekermo PhD, Senior Lecturer in Social Work.


Rapportering och kontroll i fokus: En studie av Arbetsförmedlingens utvärderingsverksamhet
Zovko, Davor
Örebro universitet, Institutionen för juridik, psykologi och socialt arbete.
2017 (Svenska)
Abstract [en]
The aim of this study was to explore evaluation in the Swedish Public Employment Service, with particular focus on how the use of evaluations looks like. The study consists of two studies. The first one is an analysis of the Employment Service’s all policy documents that describe or mention evaluation as well as an interview-study with all the management staff in one of the Employment Service’s local labor market units. The second study is a comparative study with analysis of the Employment Service’s entire evaluation production for the years 2010 and 2015. The results show that the Swedish Public Employment Service is a hierarchically controlled governmental organization with routines for effective communication of management’s messages to all levels in the organization. Employment Service’s evaluation is governed and implemented centrally and communicated from the top, down through the organization. Evaluations are mainly used as a routine for checking and reporting, as well as accounting to the government. Managers on a middle and local level find that much of the evaluation is about control, and that control is not adapted to needs of the everyday business on the local level. Evaluation activities are extensive. Evaluations seems to have become an end in itself, used in legitimizing purposes rather than as a tool for developing of the service to the clients. Half of the evaluations that the Employment Service carried out by their own, is regular evaluations. Almost all evaluations carried out by the European Social Fund Council in Sweden and “Samordningsförbund” (associations for coordination of social projects) are single occasion-evaluations. Legitimizing dominates the use of evaluation, both 2010 and 2015 in evaluating production. Evaluation for improving of the service to the clients is mentioned only in a small number of policy documents. Evaluations that includes the client’s perspective as well as proposals for change occurs to a limited extent in both 2010 and 2015. The Organization of the Employment Service’s evaluation activities are heavily influenced by New Public Management’s management philosophy.

Örebro University & Mälardalen University 2017
Örebro Studies in Social work ISSN 1651-145X ; 20
ISBN 978-91-7529-193-2

Key words:
Evaluation, Public Employment Service, New Public Management

National Category
Social Work, Public Administration Studies

Article 1

Zovko, D., Ekermo, M., & Brunnberg, E. (2016). Use of Evaluations in the Swedish Public Employment Service. Arbetsmarknad & Arbetsliv 22(1), 6-26.


The aim of this paper is to explore the role and use of evaluations within the Swedish Public Employment Service. Methods used are analysis of policy documents and interviews with management personnel at one of 55 local units within the organisation. The results show that the Employment Service uses evaluations mainly for monitoring and reporting to the government, not for developing methods to support clients. Evaluations of the Employment Service are carried out centrally. They are communicated from top to bottom, mainly by verbal communication through all levels of leadership within the organisation. The communicated information is filtered and concentrated at each level. Filtration means that individual managers only convey the information they consider relevant to the next lower level. Concentration means that the information is reformulated and condensed as it propagates through the organization. The Employment Service’s policy documents contain guidelines for how to use the evaluations; however, these mainly cite laws and regulations and provide few concrete descriptions of working methods of evaluating. The New Public Management model in the organisation doesn’t seem to support the task of providing service to its clients. The conclusion is that, as a human service organisation, the Employment Service needs evaluations to learn about clients’ needs in order to improve the service to them. However, it is a top-down organisation that generally uses evaluations not for this purpose, but instead for monitoring and reporting to the government.


Article 2

Zovko, D., Ekermo, M., & Brunnberg, E. (2017). The Swedish Public Employment Service’s Evaluation Production Year 2010 and Year 2015. A comparative study. Arbetsmarknad & Arbetsliv 23(4), 7-26.


This study reviews and compares the Public Employment Service’s evaluation production in 2010 with the evaluation production in 2015, regarding regularity, types of use, the presence of client perspective and the occurrence of proposals for changes of the evaluated activity. The Public Employment Service’s evaluation production is dominated both in 2010 and 2015 by reporting to the Government and reporting of results. Evaluations that contain a client perspective are few. They result rarely in proposals for changing the evaluated business. Both 2010 and 2015, the evaluations seem to focus more on control and accounting than on the development of support for job seekers.

Article 3

Zovko, D. (2019). Employment Officer’s Experience of the Swedish Public Employment Service’s Evaluation. Arbetsmarknad & Arbetsliv 25(3-4), 26-47.


Results of this interview survey with eight officers from the Swedish Public Employment Service show that the core business of the Employment Service is extensively evaluated within a major ongoing reorganization. Evaluation results are used at higher levels in the organization for development of information technology, organizational changes and method training of the officers in the core business. That promotes the prerequisites for professional practice. Evaluations can further support the development of the service to job seekers if used more directly in the practice and if the officers in the core business are given greater influence over the evaluation criteria.

Key words: evaluation use, professionals, human service organizations, Employment Service

Copyright © Davor Zovko

All rights reserved


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