Political Ethics and Responsibility:
Ethical management of the Government Pension Fund- Global


Hilde Nagell


Description of Nagels project as a postdoc at the Ethics Programme 2008-2011:

Although small in terms of size and inhabitants, oil and gas has made Norway one of the richest countries in the world. A great part of this petroleum wealth is now placed in the Government Pension Fund- Global. The management of the Government Pension Fund accentuates important and difficult questions of responsibility. According to the Ethical Guidelines issued in 2004, the fund is to be managed according to two main premises. First, it is to be invested to the benefit of all future generations. A requirement is therefore a high return on investments.  However, a second main premise for the management of the petroleum wealth is that the investments from the fund do not represent an unacceptable risk for contributing to unethical acts or omissions. It is this second premise, the ethical management of the Government Pension Fund, Global, that will be the main focus of this project.

The literature on moral responsibility is largely centred on individual responsibility, and concentrate on hypothetical case-situations. This project will focus on questions of complicity and co-responsibility, and link the theoretical discussions to empirical cases where questions of responsibility in public management are at stake. In particular, the project will investigate the normative underpinnings and the practical implementations of the ethical guidelines.
The ethical management of the Government Pension Fund- global, consists of two main elements. First, the Ministry of Finance may employ negative screening and exclusion of companies. These are mechanisms of sanctions that are imposed from outside in the sense that decisions are made to avoid investing in- or withdrawing investments from- companies on the basis of certain pre-defined conditions.  Second, the Norwegian Central Bank is required to exercise their owner rights from inside the companies through various mechanisms of corporate governance.

The main purpose of the Government Pension Fund-global is to secure future public pensions. Thematically, this project therefore links to my earlier work on public pension (doctoral dissertation).However, the project nevertheless implies the building up of a whole different field of competence. The contribution of this project will be on two levels: a) Theory-developing with regard to better the understanding of central concepts such as complicity and responsibility in public management. b) Evaluating institutional practices of ethical management within the Council of Ethics, the Ministry of Finance and the Norwegian Central Bank.


Hilde Nagell

PhD in Political Science

Politisk rådgiver i Røde kors

E-mail: hilde.nagell@redcross.no
Phone +47 22 05 44 53

Cell.+47 93 43 65 07

Postal address:
Norges Røde Kors
Postboks 1, Grønland
0133 OSLO

Visiting address:
Hausmannsgate 7

Tidligere stipend fra Etikkprogrammet:
Postdoktorstipend 2008-2011

Nagells CV