Functional Classification Systems in Finnish Public-Sector Organisations

Event start date
Event start time

Pinni B building auditorium 1096, address: Kanslerinrinne 1.

Doctoral defence of M.Soc.Sc. Saara Packalén

Functional Classification Systems in Finnish Public-Sector Organisations

The field of science of the dissertation is Information Studies and Interactive Media.

The opponent is professor Julie McLeod (Northumbria University, UK). Docent Pekka Henttonen acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

Functional Classification Systems in Public-Sector Organisations’ Recordkeeping

A functional classification system is a hierarchically structured list of an organisation’s functions. The system connects records accumulated in the course of carrying out the organisation’s tasks to the context of their origin – that is, to the function for which the records were created or received in the organisation, and of which they serve as evidence. Organisation’s functions are the predominant approach to records organisation internationally.

The research for the dissertation focused on functional classification systems in Finnish public-sector organisations. The dissertation describes and analyses functional classification systems mainly from the recordkeeping professionals’ perspective. Additionally, the study focused on the terminology used in the functional classification systems.

The findings reveal that there are various ways to understand functional classification systems. The participating recordkeeping professionals’ concrete understanding of these systems was linked with the tasks they performed in the organisation. Accordingly, functional classification systems were seen as serving various purposes, which formed part of the justification for their use in the organisation. Alternatives to using them were seldom cited. However, recordkeeping professionals faced various difficulties in functional classification systems’ maintenance and use. The study reveals some conflicting needs for functional classification systems, between distinct user groups and between contexts of use. However, recordkeeping professionals had several ways of dealing with the difficulties. Functional classification systems were perceived primarily as being tools for recordkeeping professionals themselves. Still, other users were identified too. Recordkeeping professionals’ expectations of these other users varied. The findings related to terminology highlight that various wordings of category titles were used in the functional classification systems and that these were ambiguous and abstract. Differences in labelling between organisations were identified. A clear logic in titles’ wordings, followed throughout the labels used in a given classification system, was found to be lacking.

The study has yielded new knowledge of functional classification systems and their use in Finnish public-sector organisations. The difficulties identified in their use deserve to receive greater attention, especially those related to the terminology used in functional classification systems. Clearly, the study also highlights a need for construction of a solid theoretical foundation for function-based organisation of records.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2291, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1794, Tampere University Press 2017.

Additional information