Monday, 26 September 2011

SNS Managing Director Anders Vredin Resigns

Today, the board of the Centre for Business and Policy Studies (SNS) announced that they have agreed with managing director Anders Vredin that he will resign his post as soon as a suitable replacement is found, and that the search for such a replacement is to start immediately. Media reports can be found here, here, here, here, here. Effectively this means that Vredin has been sacked.

Given the events of the last week or so, this development is expected. The affair, as well as my posts on the issue, started when Vredin issued a gag order for the (now former) SNS head of research, Laura Hartman when she wanted to respond to criticism of a report pointing to the weak empirical evidence for repeated claims that a long trend of privatisation of Swedish public services improves effectiveness, which led Hartman to resign. After that followed a storm of criticism of Vredin, further resignations and threats of such from all parts of the SNS leadership and scientific advisors. Vredin did a weak attempt to roll over publicly, but instead exposed himself as harbouring exactly the sort of lack of support of academic freedom and research integrity that critics acused him of having acted out of. The Swedish academic community in general has also reacted strongly against Vredin's actions. My posts on this process can be found here, here and here.

The decision of the board today was simply the only one they could make, lest SNS would very quickly have been history. It remains to be seen, however, if trust and confidence in SNS research can be rebuilt. At least for me, it will take quite a while of unquestionable behaviour before I can start to feel reasonably certain about results and reports coming out of SNS not being screened, edited and censored on other grounds than purely scientific ones. One thing one would like to see in that process is that SNS research is more systematically being exposed to critical scrutiny of the international scientific community, thus not primarily publishing reports in Swedish only, but base these on peer reviewed articles in established research journals.