From Aldermen to Ministers: The Oslo Model Revisited

  • Harald Baldersheim


When the City of Oslo changed its executive organisation in 1986 from an aldermanic to a ministerial format, this was a revolutionary move in the Norwegian context. Experience as well as theories of institutional development predicted an imminent collapse of the experiment, or a gradual return to pre-existing, well-known ways of running the city, if the experiment was ever implemented. Instead, the Oslo model has been in operation for 17 years. Its radical features have become more fully developed over the years, and today it is taken for granted as the natural form of governance for Oslo. The model has not travelled widely, however. It has been adopted only in the county council of Nordland since 1999 and, since 2000, in the city of Bergen (Fimreite, 2003; R0iseland and Stigen, 2003). After a short trial period, a somewhat similar scheme was abandoned by another county council.


City Council County Council Directorate Model Service Department Political Body 
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  1. 1.
    The data presented in this paper draws on two evaluative studies: the first carried out by the author two and a half years after its inception, and the second, conducted ten years later by a different team. The first evaluation study was summarised in Baldersheim, Harald and Torodd Strand (1988), “Byregjering” i Oslo kommune. Hovedrapport fra et evalueringsprosjekt. Bergen: Norwegian Research Centre in Organization and Management. Report No. 7. The second round of evaluations was reported in Hagen, Terje P., Trine Monica Myrvold, Ståle Opedal, Inger Marie Stigen, Helge Strand Østtveiten (1999), Parlamentarisme eller formannskapsmodell? Det parlamentariske styringssystemet i Oslo sammenliknet med formanns-kapsmodellene i Bergen, Trondheim og Stavnager. Oslo: Norsk Institutt for by-og regionforskning. Rapport nr. 3. The present review of Oslo’s system of governance updates the analysis presented in Baldersheim, Harald (1992). “‘Aldermen into Ministers’. Oslo’s Experiment with a City Cabinet”, Local Government Studies, 18: 18–30.Google Scholar

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© Rikke Berg and Nirmala Rao 2005

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  • Harald Baldersheim

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