Centralized,Leadership, Ministerial Dominance, and Improvised Instruments: The Governance of COVID in Finland




Emneord (Nøkkelord):

COVID, Finland, governance, leadership, strategy


Analyzing the governance of the COVID crisis in Finland, this article shows that in terms of organization and communication the strategy combined elements of centralized leadership, ministerial dominance, and scientific expertise. The government adopted an uncertainty avoidance approach in mid-March 2020, declaring the state of emergency and imposing strict anti-pandemic measures. The first wave of the pandemic was characterized by a sense of national urgency both in terms of policy and public opinion, which appreciated the active leadership of the government. Subsequently the government shifted to a more decentralized pandemic governance under normal legislation, with targeted regional solutions favored more instead of nation-wide measures. This produced occasional tensions between regional authorities and the government. The Prime Minister’s Office was in charge, but the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health retained most of the actual decision-making and horizontal coordination as well as governmental communication created challenges. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was highly visible throughout the crisis, but occasionally the views of the health authorities and the executive differed.


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