The politics–administration dichotomy in support for national sport guidelines in local government: The views of Finnish municipal top decision-makers on child and youth physical activity guidelines

Anna Lee1, Salme Kärkkäinen2, Anna-Maija Lämsä3, Kimmo Suomi1,
Hanna Vehmas
1, Jari Villberg1
1 Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä;
2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Jyväskylä;
3 School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä

While autonomous municipalities in western societies have become responsible for the implementation of national sport policy, the diversity of local decision-makers’ policy interests presents significant challenges. Building on an institutional approach based on Max Weber’s theory of bureaucracy, this problem is addressed by studying local political and administrative top decision-makers’ support of the Sports Act guidelines for child and youth sport in Finland. Utilising large survey data from 736 Finnish local top decision-makers, the analysis revealed attitudinal differences, especially between politicians and administrators, and thus a paradoxical situation in the implementation of these guidelines. This finding supports the view that the current debate on the realisation of sport policy in Finland’s autonomous local government system needs to consider differences in the views of different decision-making groups and their influence on local sport provision. 

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 14, 2023

ANNA LEE is a Doctoral Researcher at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. She holds a master’s degree in social sciences of sport, and has been working at the University for several years as a teacher and project researcher in the social sciences of sport. Lee’s main research area involves local sport policy and decision-making in sport. Her other interests and extensive working experience have involved sport facilities, sport clubs and event management.

SALME KÄRKKÄINEN (Ph.D.) is a Senior Lecturer in statistics at the University of Jyväskylä.  As a specialist in statistics, she has been part of various sport and health science research projects and has been constantly involved in international research collaborations. Her areas of specialization include survival analysis, mixed models, classification and clustering methods, computational specialization in R, Bayersian statistics, and multivariate methods.

ANNA-MAIJA LÄMSÄ (Ph.D.) was Professor of Human Resource Management at the School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä from 2004 to 2021. She currently holds an Emerita Professor position at the School of Business and Economics. In the academic year 2021–2022, she was visiting professor at the University of Vilnius (Lithuania).  Her research interests are in ethical approaches to management, leadership and organizations as well as gender issues in leadership and organizatonal behaviour. She has published extensively both internationally and in Finland. She has received several international and national awards for her research, publications and career.

KIMMO SUOMI (professor emeritus) was a Professor in Sport Planning at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, and held an expert position at the Ministry of Education and Culture. His main research areas are different environments of physical activity, such as physical, social, mental, managerial and economic environments. Previously, he has worked in several international research projects and was a visiting professor in Sweden at Umeå University, Shanghai University of Sport (SUS) and Guangzhou University of Sport (GUS). He was the creator of the Finnish GIS-data bank for sports facilities which is used in all Finnish municipalities to support decision-making for sports facilities.

HANNA VEHMAS (Ph.D.) is a Senior Lecturer with a background in sociology (M.Sc. University of Turku) and sport sociology (Ph.D. University of Jyväskylä). Her main research areas are sport sociology and sport management, e.g., sport participation, the societal role of physical activity, and private sport sector. Due to her exceptional international work in sport sciences, she mainly teaches social sciences of sport to international students and has supervised over one hundred master’s theses and three doctoral theses at the University of Jyväskylä. Dr. Vehmas has also acted as reviewer and external examiner internationally. Notably, She was one of the responsible researchers of the Finnish part of the International research project IISSAAR which investigated the screen media use among preschool children in different countries around the world. Dr Vehmas is currently the President of the European Association for Sociology of Sport (EASS)

JARI VILLBERG is an statistician at the University of Jyväskylä. He has worked for the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences for nearly 30 years and published hundreds of academic articles. One of his major research contributions in recent years have been managing and analyzing the government led LIITU data as well as the international HBSC data on physical activity behavior of Finnish children and youth.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.