Political Entrepreneurship in Swedish: Towards a (Re)Theorization of Entrepreneurial Agency
Public policies affect all of us, regardless of who we are or where we live. The study of public policymaking necessarily entails the study of the entire political system and to this end, researchers employ a multitude of frameworks, theories, and models, which tend to be complementary rather than mutually exclusive. The focus of this dissertation is on political entrepreneurship as an actor-based framework to examine and understand policy change. The dissertation’s main aim is to conceptually enhance entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur in the polis by leveraging them in the Swedish political context. In this research, political entrepreneurship and the political entrepreneur are examined in the background of the Swedish corporatist policymaking system with its consensual sensibilities. The five (two theoretical and three empirical) papers as well as the cover essay comprising this dissertation attempt to answer the following questions: first, how do contextual factors inform the realization of entrepreneurial agency? Second, how do contextual factors inform the strategies entrepreneurial actors use to affect change? Third, what is the role of political entrepreneurship and the political entrepreneur in macro-level theories such as critical junctures and policy transfer? Contextual factors here are understood to be the general political system; the level of governance; the substantive policy sector, and the stage of the policy process. Predominantly qualitative methods and a variety of analytical tools, ranging from formal social network analysis (SNA) to process tracing are used to investigate the research questions in the national, regional, and local levels of governance and in the fields of crisis management, risk governance, and economic development respectively. Findings suggest that overwhelmingly, political entrepreneurs come from the ranks of public officials and thus political entrepreneurship is a feature of the policy implementation stage rather than the agenda setting stage of policymaking. There is not a place for the outsider, single issue entrepreneur in the Swedish consensual system, which provides for extensive inclusion, but of actors organized in interest groups. Political entrepreneurs are action-oriented, problem solving doers, characterized by perseverance and resourcefulness and are key in consolidating policy change in the aftermath of a crisis. Though in broad terms the strategies political entrepreneurs use in the Swedish context are concomitant with the ones used in pluralistic contexts, specificities diverge. In the Swedish corporatist consensual system, political entrepreneurship becomes a conduit facilitating interconnections among a multitude of actors; opens up additional channels of communication, while the political entrepreneur is a network maker. Finally, political entrepreneurship is focused on forging a consensus rather than winning the competition: the art of quiet cooperation and collaboration.