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      Constructing certainty through public budgeting: budgetary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland, Norway and Sweden

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      Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management
      Emerald

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          This paper provides a reflective comparison of the budgetary implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for three Nordic countries: Finland, Norway and Sweden.

          Design/methodology/approach

          By drawing from the notion of ambiguity and constructions of certainty, this study analyzes the most relevant budgetary allocations and packages implemented by the governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden in response to the COVID-19 crisis using empirical documentary data.

          Findings

          Influenced by the need to save citizens' lives and protect the economy, the three countries have interpreted the COVID-19 threat in different ways. While Finland and Norway seem to be fighting a war against the virus, Sweden appears to view COVID-19 as an exceptionally difficult flu. These different perspectives are reflected in the strategies and budgetary responses implemented in the three countries.

          Originality/value

          By elaborating on the ambiguities of reality, causality and intentionality, this paper shows how the budgeting mindset aimed at creating certainties among citizens varies among the Nordic countries, which are generally assumed to be similar.

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          Most cited references22

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          Bounded Rationality, Ambiguity, and the Engineering of Choice

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            Ambiguity and accounting: The elusive link between information and decision making

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              Is Open Access

              The COVID-19 pandemic and the Swedish strategy: Epidemiology and postmodernism

              The aim is to outline the underlying epidemiological thinking and mentality in post-materialist and postmodern Sweden behind the Swedish strategy. The aim is not to investigate the handling of the pandemic in Sweden in the long-run. Overconfidence in herd immunity, overconfidence in individual responsibility in a pandemic needing community-centered approaches, overconfidence in evidence-based medicine and neglect to coordinate with the WHO and other countries may be associated with post-materialist values and postmodernism including opposition against modern authority, rationality and science, and also an anti-traditionalist stance towards older generations. COVID-19 epidemiology and postmodernism may be a dangerous combination.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management
                JPBAFM
                Emerald
                1096-3367
                1945-1814
                October 20 2020
                November 26 2020
                October 20 2020
                November 26 2020
                : 32
                : 5
                : 875-887
                Article
                10.1108/JPBAFM-07-2020-0093
                57626ee9-1877-41fd-9a82-4846282efce6
                © 2020

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