The novice MP: The experience of the newly elected in Iceland

Stefanía Óskarsdóttir, Ómar H. Kristmundsson


The study is intended to provide novel insights into the adaptation of new members of parliament to a working environment that differs in many ways from more traditional workplaces. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with 16 first-term members of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, after two years’ experience following their election in 2013. The findings show that learning to become active members of parliament is primarily an informal and disorganised process driven by the newcomers themselves. Little formal on-the-job training is available. Two years into their term, the interviewees felt they were still learning and adapting to the rules and norms. New MPs’ performance seems to depend on several factors, including how active they are in the learning process and how successfully they manage to build relationships with colleagues and find informal mentors, who in some cases belong to different political parties. The data limits the inclusion of contextual factors potentially influencing the MPs socialisation process.


Icelandic MPs; Althingi; professional job competence; organisational socialisation.

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Published by the Institute of Public Administration and Politics of the Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland.

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