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Abstract

During the 2000s, Sweden has pursued an active foreign and security policy. This has meant participation in several international military operations and has left many Swedish soldiers and officers with combat experience. Thus, the Swedish parliament decided in 2010 on a political reform of the veterans area, with more extensive societal support, war decorations to express the government recognition of personal sacrifices made in the service and a new medal for courage in combat. Considered as a reward system, it functions as an immaterial and emotionally established incentive, in contrast to the financial and bonus reward systems that are otherwise common.

From a governance perspective, this setting is fundamentally interesting. The complexity of military operations and the demands for efficiency in armed combat are in contrast with the democratic state's need to guarantee the rule of law, even from a distance and under difficult conditions. Traditional government is not sufficient because the situation is characterized by high contextual uncertainty and therefore requires more situational adaptive control. Organizing in a professional model implies autonomy for military officials, and this means that there is a form of gap in terms of civilian control.

In the dissertation, a concept and an analytical model are formulated to understand this phenomenon, entitled soft norm governance, that also form one of the main results. The model combines four levels of analysis to describe the dynamics of the steering mix: organizational metagovernance, rule control, policy work and professional ethics. One conclusion is that professional ethics has a two-way function in the chain of implementation steering, both as a decisive factor for concrete decision-making, but also as an objective for the government’s soft norm governance. Thus, this control gap does not mean absence of control, but that other value-based norm systems govern our actions. In this way, soft norm governance also reaches beyond the scope of the law.

The theoretical framework is metagovernance, the idea that the modern state is steering at a distance and with subtle methods, such as by organizational measures. It opens for the importance of soft law, social norms and ethics in governmental steering. The case study of the veterans policy and medal of courage contributes empirically to the specification of these theories. Furthermore, new institutionalism adds an explanatory value with a rationality of action for the officials, a so-called logic of appropriateness based on the professional role and on adaptation to the situation at hand and to applicable rules. Theoretically, the thesis contributes by supplementing with a logic of values, which takes into account the profession's ethical and moral rationality of action, which is particularly important in situations such as armed conflict.

The methodological approach combines a structural statistical perspective with a qualitative and understanding-oriented perspective and can, with the support of the analytical model, illuminate both pattern and function. The material base is a total selection from the medal preparation of eight contingents in Afghanistan during the years 2008-2012, i.e. FS16-FS23. It consists of the archive material from the nominations as well as in-depth interviews with responsible commanders at the international units and at the national headquarters, including the Commander-in-Chief.