More E-government – Less Street-Level Bureaucracy?: On Legitimacy and the Human Side of Public Administration
2013 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
To explain how legitimacy is maintained, scholars increasingly argue that more attention must be paid to how citizens experience their encounters with public officials. At the same time, the introduction of egovernment is challenging the role of street-level bureaucrats as building blocks of legitimacy. Citizens are increasingly expected to deal with public organizations through impersonal computer screens. We ask whether greater elements of e-government may affect street-level bureaucrats and their ability to build legitimacy of the political system. Our answers are based on a case study of a Swedish municipality which was a pioneer in developing a strong position of street-level bureaucrats in the 1980s, and later also a pioneer in implementing ambitious e-government-reforms. We show that e-government is, by key actors, increasingly regarded as the central contact channel. While this improves transparency and availability, responsive listening and situational adaptation are not easily translated to electronic channels. Certain practical preconditions for legitimacybuilding, inherent to the street-level bureaucratic role, are therefore challenged.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
E-government, street-level bureaucrats, legitimacy, welfare state, local government
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-98290OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-98290DiVA: diva2:654050