Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1399: Ballooning Bureaucracy: Tracking the Growth of High-Skilled Administration within Swedish Higher Education

Fredrik W. Andersson , Henrik Jordahl () and Anders Kärnä ()
Additional contact information
Fredrik W. Andersson: Statistics Sweden and Örebro University
Henrik Jordahl: Örebro University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Anders Kärnä: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden, and Örebro University

Abstract: Organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, needs to allocate labor for both production as well as internal administration. If this allocation is skewed towards internal administration, organizations, and especially non-profit organizations, might develop sclerosis over time with too much labor allocated to internal administration compared to production. Using detailed registry data on all individuals working at Swedish universities and colleges, we document a rapid increase in the number of qualified administrators, both in the number of employees and in total wages paid for these. This increase is not present in less qualified administration, and is mainly driven by an increase by a few professions such as communication and human resources. The increase does not lead to a significant reduction, or increase, in the time that researchers and teachers spend on administration. This in turn suggests that Swedish higher education over-allocates resources to high-skilled administration.

Keywords: Organization theory; Sclerosis; Productivity Growth; Bureaucracy; Higher education

JEL-codes: L25; P16

26 pages, August 19, 2021

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