The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has conducted, on behalf of the Swedish Government, an Agency analysis (myndighetsanalys) of the Institute for Language and Folklore.
The Institute's overall mission is to conduct language cultivation and, using a scientific basis, increase, give life to and disseminate knowledge on languages, dialects, folklore, names and other intangible cultural heritage in Sweden. The Institute was formed in 2006 by coordinating the public language cultivation tasks with the agency Språk- och folkminnesinstitutet (predecessor of the Institute). The Government's motivation for establishing the Institute was to coordinate knowledge and competence and to make more efficient use of resources.
The Institute has three departments with archive collections located in Uppsala and Gothenburg and a department for language cultivation in Stockholm (the Language Council). The Institute has an appropriation of more than SEK 67 million and has about 80 annual full-time workforce equivalents.
The Institute has extensive activities within all its assignments
The analysis shows that the Institute conducts extensive activities within all its areas. Through its work with intangible cultural heritage and its role as national language authority, the Institute contributes to the goal of increasing knowledge on languages, dialects, names, folklore and other intangible cultural heritage.
The Institute's broad mission entails that the agency addresses many different target groups that have different needs, such as researchers, government agencies, associations and individuals with an interest in cultural heritage and language. Statskontoret's analysis shows that the Institute creates significant added value for users of the agency's services. However, Statskontoret finds that there is a need to increase the target groups' awareness of the Institute so that more people can benefit from its activities.
Special conditions for internal control
The Institute has a broad mission and conducts its own research. The Institute's organisation consists of previously independent entities that are engaged in different types of activities at various locations in the country. Overall, these circumstances place specific demands on the agency's internal control.
There is also an imbalance in the Institute's instruction, where the language cultivation tasks are more specified than the other parts of the mission. There is a risk that this will reinforce the tensions evident between the different departments.
Statskontoret's analysis indicates that the agency needs to develop a consensus on how the various tasks of the Institute contribute to the common mission. Greater consensus is required for internal control and common priorities to be sufficiently achieved.
Challenge to create a more coherent agency
Statskontoret's analysis highlights that the Institute needs to become a more coherent agency. We therefore recommend that
- the Government reviews the Institute's instruction with the aim of creating a better balance between different tasks
- the Institute continues to conduct strategic discussions on how the agency's various tasks contribute to the common goals
- the Institute conducts joint discussions in the agency concerning the contexts in which internal cooperation creates added value
- the Institute continues its efforts to strengthen the "we" feeling within the agency.
Statskontoret notes that the agency's management has begun work to strengthen the internal control. This includes a more defined role for the support departments and work with guidelines and strategies. In the ongoing work of the agency, we recommend that the Institute
- continues its work to develop planning and follow-up
- clarifies the priorities of communication and IT resources
- further develops its accounting for operational results
- reviews the organisation of the Language Council to create better opportunities to manage and develop the activities
- makes the allocation of state subsidies to support national minority languages more transparent.
A changing world entails challenges for the Institute
in order for the Institute to maintain its relevance in a changing world characterised by cultural diversity, new languages and rapid technological development, we recommend that
• the Institute develops a plan for strategic skills provision
• the Institute conducts a comprehensive target group analysis covering all aspects of the agency's activities.
In order to create greater transparency regarding the quality and relevance of the research and provide a basis for the development of the agency's research, we recommend that
- the Institute engages external experts to conduct an overall evaluation of the agency's research activities, both from a scientific perspective and a relevance perspective, every few years.