Shaping a profession?. A new professional context and changing status for registrars in Sweden

Publication Date25 November 2013
Date25 November 2013
AuthorMaria Kallberg
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
Shaping a profession?
A new professional context and changing
status for registrars in Sweden
Maria Kallberg
Department of Archives and Computer Science, Mid Sweden University,
¨sand, Sweden
Purpose – In order to work more efficiently with internal and external processes, public
organisations are working with reorganisation and centralisation of documentation practices as part
of a holistic approach to manage and control information flows. The registry function has a long
tradition built on legislative requirements concerning registration of official documents in order to
fulfil the citizens’ rights to access information. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate challenges
related to recordkeeping legislative awareness within a public organisation and how a changing
context may impact on the registrars’ status.
Design/methodology/approach – The data presented and analysed are based on a longitudinal
case study of a centralised registry function project undertaken by a Swedish local government body
(a municipality). Interviews have been used as the primary data collection method.
Findings – The findings identify challenges that result from a lack of recordkeeping skills and
recordkeeping legislative awareness that needs to be solved in order to reach a successful
implementation. Even though the registry function is identified as strategically important, the
registrars have not reached the status “expert”. Changing context does not necessarily lead to a change
in status. It is a more complex process, which includes attitudes, knowledge and skills.
Research limitations/implications – The research is limited by being a case study in a single
organisation in the Swedish public sector context.
Practical implications – The findings could be useful for public organisations that intend to
reorganise and centralise documentation practices. Furthermore, the findings contribute to record
keeping practitioners and also to stakeholders within public organisations.
Originality/value – Registrars as an occupational group in Sweden have not been the focus of any
extensive academic research. In view of its new strategic importance the registry function has
benefitted from organisational restructuring; research is needed on registrars as a possible future
“records management profession”, which does not currently exist in Sweden.
Keywords Continuum, Electronic recordkeeping,Professionalisation, Sweden, Publicsector,
Recordkeepinglegislative awareness, Registrars,Reorganisation project
Paper type Research paper
Influenced by the private sector, some public organisations are reorganising and
centralising vital functions connected to information capture, in order to improve
services (Corral, 2010, p. 5; Kallberg, 2013). The primary aim is to offer an interface in
the form of a single contact point for the public, serving all organisational units. These
centralised information capture services receive telephone calls, SMS messages, e-mail,
post, etc. (Ambriola et al., 2007). Registry functions have also been a focus for
centralisation efforts, both at local and national government levels in Sweden. Sweden
has a long tradition of keeping registration journals. The oldest preserved journal is
dated 1551 (Sundqvist, 2009, p. 79). Originally the journal was used to register
incoming and outgoing letters in chronological order. This was standard practice until
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Shaping a
Received 25 February 2013
Revised 16 August 2013
Accepted 16 September
Records Management Journal
Vol. 23 No. 3, 2013
pp. 177-190
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-02-2013-0006

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