Trafikpolitik och regional omvandling : Beslutsprocesserna om isbrytningen längs Norrlandskusten 1940-1975

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to understand the decision-making processes concerning ice-breaking along the coast of Norrland, with the specific aim to analyse the activities of regional interest groups in the Norrland region and government agents at different administrative levels at the key stages of the decision-making processes: initiation, drafting and decision-making. The thesis also explores how institutional factors at different administrative levels affected the agents that were involved at those stages of the decision-making processes. As navigation along the northern Swedish coast must negotiate winter conditions which causes ports to freeze over, the government ice-breaking service functions as an instrument to compensate the export firms in Norrland for these constrains. Year-round navigation in the north Swedish coastal waters was achieved through a series of decision-making processes that took place during the period from 1940 to 1975. These decision-making processes are important to study since ice-breaking was an integrated component of the expanding heavy basic industries in Norrland and thereby for the rapidly growing exports during the 1950s and 1960s. This period is the decisive point in the economic history of the Norrland region regarding how the natural resources should be exploited and how exports should be advanced. This study concludes that the decision-making processes were initiated by government agents at different administrative levels. Official investigatory commissions were set up at several occasions to deal with issues related to the government ice-breaker service by the ministries responsible for ice-breaker policy. It is also demonstrated that the decision-making processes concerning ice-breaker investments were initiated by the government boards that were responsible for the operation of the ice-breaker service. In this respect, the study concludes that the government activities during the initiation stages should not be confused as a sign of regional interest group passivity on these issues. The activities of the interest groups during the initiation stages were primarily intended to draw attention to the problems caused by winter to regional shipping, in order to put the issue on the political agenda. As the decision-making processes proceeded into the drafting stages, the participation from regional interest groups was much more significant as the government offered interest groups forums and procedures for structural consulting through various organisational arrangements. The regional interest groups that participated in those arrangements were industrial firms in the heavy basic industries sector. In those cases other regional interest groups participated, they would promote the interests of those firms. As a result, the final drafts from committees and government bodies included arguments that favoured an expansion of ice-breaking to promote the growth of the heavy basic industries in the Norrland region. The analysis of the decision-making stages suggests that a combination of institutional factors at different administrative levels contributed to the outcome of the decision-making processes. One result is that the general aims of macro policy such as trade policy, growth policy and regional development policy were favourable towards an expansion of the government ice-breaker service, which would benefit the export industries in the Norrland region. Another result is that the sectoral organization within the government maritime bodies contributed significantly to the outcome of the decision-making processes. Large-scale planning and operational experimentation was allowed to take place within the ice-breaker service, which convinced the government that ice-breaking and winter navigation was a feasible transport alternative.