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More E-government – Less Street-Level Bureaucracy?: On Legitimacy and the Human Side of Public Administration
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Political Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Centre for Municipality Studies – CKS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Journal of Information Technology & Politics, ISSN 1933-1681, no 3, 291-308 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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
Taylor & Francis, 2014. no 3, 291-308 p.
Keyword [en]
E-government, street-level bureaucrats, legitimacy, welfare state, local government
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-98290DOI: 10.1080/19331681.2014.908155OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-98290DiVA: diva2:654050
Note

The previous status of this publication was Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-10-07 Created: 2013-10-07 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. En legitim (elektronisk) förvaltning?: Om IT-utveckling i kommunal förvaltning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>En legitim (elektronisk) förvaltning?: Om IT-utveckling i kommunal förvaltning
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Den här avhandlingen undersöker utvecklingen av en elektronisk förvaltning ur ett legitimitetsperspektiv. Det övergripande syftet är att analysera den reella och potentiella förändring som e-förvaltning innebär för den offentliga förvaltningens legitimitetsgrunder, både i form av hur e-förvaltning har formulerats som idé, och hur det konkret har gått till när e-förvaltning har implementerats i praktiken. Avhandlingen består av fem artiklar som undersöker olika aspekter av syftet, från idéerna bakom e-förvaltning på internationell nivå, till implementeringsprocessen på lokal nivå. Den övergripande analysen använder sig av så kallad pragmatisk institutionalism, samt perspektiv på hur legitimitet skapas och upprättshålls i förvaltningen. En fallstudie av en svensk kommun utgör det huvudsakliga empiriska materialet. Detta material kompletteras med en mindre studie av ytterligare en svensk kommun, samt dokumentstudier av den Europeiska Unionens policy för e-förvaltning. Avhandlingen lyfter fram fyra huvudsakliga slutsatser: (1) e-förvaltningsreformer bidrar till skapandet av en ny praxis, där den praktiska utvecklingen och tillämpningen av IT blir ett allt viktigare inslag i den studerade kommunens organisering och serviceutövning, (2) detta bidrar till en omorganisering av aktörsroller- och förhållanden. Ledande tjänstemän i kommunen övertar den strategiska styrningen av utvecklingsprocessen från lokala politiker, medan kommunens närbyråkrater kringgås genom att medborgaren förväntas ta ett större eget ansvar för interaktionen med förvaltningen, (3) legitimitetsgrunder såsom brukarinflytande och kundanpassning placeras därmed i förgrunden medan den politiska styrningen och bedömningen hamnar i bakgrunden, (4) dessa förändringar tyder på allt starkare inslag av en gör-detsjälv-logik, där legitimitet i genomförandeprocesser främst grundar sig i individens möjlighet till självbetjäning och självförvaltning via elektroniska kanaler.

Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the development of an electronic government from a legitimacy perspective. The overarching aim is to analyse the actual and potential processes of change and impacts of e-government on bases of legitimacy within public administration – both with regards to how the ideas behind e-government have been formulated as well as how e-government in practise has been realised. The thesis consists of five articles that examine different aspects of the overarching aim; from the ideas behind e-government on an international level, to the practical implementation process in local government. The overarching analysis uses an institutional perspective and perspectives on the creation and maintenance of legitimacy in public administration. An in-depth case study of a Swedish municipality provides the main empirical material for the analysis. In turn, the material is supplemented with a smaller case study of another Swedish municipality, as well as document studies of the e-government policy of the European Union. The analysis arrives at four overarching conclusions: (1) egovernment reforms contribute to new practises, in which the development and application of IT is becoming increasingly central for the local organisation and the provision of public services, (2) this contributes to a reorganisation of actor roles and relationships. Leading public officials shoulder the strategic steering usually confined to local politicians, whilst street-level bureaucrats are circumvented by citizens since citizens are expected to shoulder greater individual responsibility in their interaction with administrations, (3) in turn, certain bases for legitimacy are placed in the foreground, in particular user influence and customer adaptation, whilst political steering and evaluation are downplayed, (4) these developments point at the emergence of a do-it-yourself-logic, in which legitimacy is mainly based on creating sufficient preconditions for individual selfservices and self-government through the electronic channels of administrations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 80 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 589
Keyword
E-government, public administration, legitimacy, local government, municipality, public e-services, institutionalism, E-förvaltning, offentlig förvaltning, legitimitet, kommuner, e-tjänster, organisering, pragmatisk institutionalism
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-98291 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-98291 (DOI)978-91-7519-517-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-11-07, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-10-07 Created: 2013-10-07 Last updated: 2013-10-07Bibliographically approved

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Jansson, GabriellaErlingsson, Gissur Ó

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