In this report, the results of a research project that examines municipal relations around the Gotha Canal are presented together with a discussion of the factors influencing political and administrative co-operation in general. The report begins with an analysis of the structural factors influencing regional co-operation in Europe and Sweden, and continues with an examination of the ways that actors in the Canal municipalities perceive these structural hinders. In order to achieve this the project has examined inter-municipal co-operation in parts of the Swedish counties of Västergötland and Östergötland. Two central aspects have been examined. The first is the political co-operation between the municipalities, and the second is the administrative co-operation. It should be noted that the municipalities’ co-operation around the Gotha Canal cannot be seen as an isolated phenomenon, and that it must be seen in a wider context – that of a relatively recent and general trend towards regional co-operation in the area. In a report of this size it is not possible to describe all details of the different types of co-operation that now exist between the municipalities. Neither has it been the aim of this project to provide a detailed documentation of the various stages in the development of the cooperation around the Gotha Canal up to today. The ambition has been instead to attempt to uncover the factors that are conductive or detrimental to regional development and inter-municipal co-operation both in the specific case of the Canal, and in general. It should also be remembered that regional development in Sweden is an area that is in a process of rapid transition and that in some ways it has only just begun. New developments are taking place all the time, and it is impossible to predict how and where these developments will lead.
The study was based primarily on semi-structured interviews with fifteen senior council politicians and civil servants in the municipalities of Mariestad, Töreboda, Karlsborg, Motala, Linköping, Norrköping and Söderköping, as well as with officials in the county of Östergötland. These were analysed together with municipal and county documents. Each interview lasted approximately 40 to 50 minutes. Five of the interviewees were woman and 10 were men and they are referred to in this report only as interviewees. The interviews were recorded and then transcribed into computer files. The transcribed interviews were qualitatively analysed and key concepts and issues identified. These concepts and issues, and the discourses around them, form the central empirical material on which this paper is based. The analysis of the 15 interviews conducted in the course of this project was supplemented by analyses of 41 other interviews with municipal politicians and administrators conducted in previous research projects.
It is hoped that this report will be of use to two main groups; first, municipal politicians and civil servants; secondly, members of the business community. The isolation of these two groups from each other has become less marked during the last decade, and attitudes of the groups to each other have changed considerably. There is now a significant need for them to gain a better understanding of the conditions that determine each others spheres of activity, and it is hoped that this report will be able to contribute something to that understanding.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2001. , 26 p.