Christensen, Tom; Lægreid, Per; Rykkja, Lise H. (2019):

How to Balance Individual Rights and Societal Security? The View of Civil Servants

Taylor & Francis






Studies in Conflict and Terrorism

Data sources
The empirical data in this article consists of a web survey of civil servants in Norwegian ministries and central agencies conducted in 2016, run by the authors and being part of the Norwegian Administrative Survey done every 10th year since 1976 by the same research group. It is a comprehensive survey covering the civil servants perceptions regarding their work and administrative reforms, their participation and contact pattern, as well as structural features, tasks and demographic features. All civil servants with at least one year tenure, from executive officers to top civil servants in the ministries, and every third civil servant in the central agencies, randomly selected were included. In total, 2322 employees from the ministries and 1963 from the central agencies answered the survey. The response rate was 60.1 % in the ministries and 58.9 % in the agencies, overall a very high response rate. It is a unique survey, which is representative for the civil servants in the Norwegian central government.

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2/9 2021

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How do Norwegian government officials perceive the dilemma between liberty and security after the 2011 terrorist attacks? A survey from 2016 shows that the central government officials’ attitudes are rather similar to the general population. Both are willing to trade individual rights for more societal security. Structural, cultural, and demographic features explain variations in the civil servants’ views. Position and perceptions of crisis management capacity make a difference. Officials responsible for crisis management are more willing to prioritize security. Low conflict, high trust, and a strong identification with central government creates support for security measures. Furthermore, age and gender matter.