The ringing tones of Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish fill the corridors and offices of the Centre for Municipality Studies (CKS) this week. The two guest researchers just happen to be here at the same time: Grete Rusten, professor at the University of Bergen, who has collaborated for many years with Brita Hermelin, research leader at CKS; and Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, professor at the University of Iceland, who collaborates with CKS researcher Gissur Ò Erlingsson.
“There are two great advantages for me when I come to visit. Not only can I learn more about the Swedish municipalities, which use a different system than on Iceland, but also concentrate fully on research. And it’s great fun as well!” says Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson.
Iceland and Sweden
One of the courses Gunnar and Gissur have previously given at the University of Iceland dealt with political corruption. During their time in Sweden, they are planning to lay the groundwork for a new joint research project.
“We are also going to compare the political administrations of Sweden and Iceland, based on different perspectives on corruption. Iceland is still in shock after the financial crisis of 2008: the people of Iceland have not yet regained their confidence in the political system. On the other hand, the economy has recovered faster than expected,” says Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson.
Strong international ties
Collaboration with international guest researchers and students has become common at CKS in recent years. These international ties have been so valuable that the centre established a guest researcher programme, starting in 2017. It aims to deepen contacts with researchers and research environments outside Linköping University. A guest researcher is to have a clear coupling to one of the research fields at CKS, and participate in the centre’s research or collaboration.
Grete and Brita are coming to the end of their joint research project ”Small municipalities and large companies”, funded by the Swedish Research Council. They are analysing and attempting to explain developments that occurred in a number of industry-focussed municipalities in Sweden after the financial crisis of 2008. And some of the databases containing necessary information are not available in Norway – but they are at LiU’s library.
“At first sight,” says Grete Rusten, “Norway and Sweden can appear quite similar, but the way in which responsibility is distributed between various levels of administration differs, and the business worlds have different structures. It’s very interesting to study these slight differences. The way in which industrial policy is organised differs between Norway and Sweden, but – even so – the results are often the same. Why is this?”
The discussion continues in Brita’s office – and the planning of the joint project. They are looking to start a new initiative within regional and Industrial development, or green growth.
The final stretch. Brita Hermelin and Grete Rusten have worked on the “Small municipalities and large companies” project for several years. Photo credit: Anna Valentinssson/ LiU