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Conference Papers Year : 2019

From Automatic Data Processing to Digitalization: What is Past is Prologue

Leif Sundberg
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Governments across the world are intensifying their use of digital technology. One way to generate an understanding of the effects of technology in the public sector is to study values. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how values in the Swedish national e-Government have developed over time. This research studies Swedish government documents between 1961 and 2018 during three periods of computerization: Automatic Data Processing, Information Technology, and Digitalization. A theoretical framework that consists of four value positions (i.e. professionalism, efficiency, service, and engagement) is utilized. The findings suggest that technological paradigms tend to generate value congruence in policy documents, followed by value divergence in evaluations. Currently, digitalization is perceived as the enabler of several values. While both IT and digitalization are referred to as tools or means, the development towards an information, knowledge, or data-driven society is also described as inevitable. The service ideal became dominant through the use of internet-based technology, while efficiency is often prioritized in large-scale projects. Engagement values are associated with a futuristic form of democracy in government documents, but rarely converted into practice. The role of professionalism is two-fold: it acts both as an enabler and as a constraint to the other values. The paper concludes with suggesting that the current development of adapting laws and regulations to enable digitalization might lead to an eroded bureaucracy, with uncertain value.
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Dates and versions

hal-02445803 , version 1 (20-01-2020)





Leif Sundberg. From Automatic Data Processing to Digitalization: What is Past is Prologue. 18th International Conference on Electronic Government (EGOV), Sep 2019, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy. pp.31-42, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-27325-5_3⟩. ⟨hal-02445803⟩
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