Ethical Value Judgements in the Budget Books of the Tallinn City Government for 1934–2013
Using qualitative content analysis, this case study examined the indications of sustainability in the budget books of the Tallinn City Government during the first independence period of the Republic of Estonia (I), the period of occupation (II) and after the restoration of independence (III).
The content analysis model is based on the Talcott Parsons’s AGIL scheme, where the respective dimensions are the four components of Estonia’s sustainable development strategy SE21: ecological balance (A), growth of welfare (G), coherent society (I) and the vitality of Estonian cultural space (L). Parsons considered the last dimension, or values (L), the most important for ensuring consistency. In addition, according to the experts involved in the development of strategy SE21, the vitality of the Estonian cultural room as well as social cohesion have a strong influence on the implementation of the strategy, meaning that these two dimensions, which are related to and intensify one another, have a focal role in the coming period.
The study’s results reveal that the budget books originating from the first independence period of the Republic of Estonia are characterised by a high level of orientation to sustainability in all dimensions. However, in the occupation period there was a decline in all fields – the orientation of culture and cohesion to sustainability was found to be extremely low and only the occurrence of ecological balance indications was satisfactory. Although the indicators have improved significantly during the period of regained independence, the results of the first period have not been achieved yet, especially with regard to social cohesion. One of the indicators of a coherent society is ensuring transparency, which was non-existent during the occupation period and is twice as low in the third than in the first period.
The results of the study indicate that there was no balance between the dimensions of the Parsons’ AGIL scheme either in the second or the third period. Therefore, the local government must intensify complete approach of sustainability, paying special attention to common values and social cohesion.
Tõnnisson, who examined Estonian local governments, also finds that Estonia is characterised by the slow development of civil society and that the Estonian public sector does not have a clearly developed value system, which is why a more serious approach should be taken for creating and promoting values.
Acknowledgement. This research project was supported by the Business Ethics Grant of the Swedbank.