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Why is it Difficult to Implement Robotic Process Automation? Empirical Cases from Swedish Municipalities
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Information Systems and Digitalization. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4735-8697
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Information Systems and Digitalization. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3416-4412
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Information Systems and Digitalization. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2422-0900
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Information Systems and Digitalization. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5656-5236
2022 (English)In: ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT, EGOV 2022, SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG , 2022, Vol. 13391, p. 353-368Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Swedish municipalities have been urged by policy makers to implement automation technologies to make administrative work more cost-efficient. As a response, a large set of municipalities have attempted to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions with the intention to speed up administrative processes. However, although RPA has been promoted for several years, implementation has been limited and slow. This paper explores challenges related to RPA implementation experienced by three Swedish municipalities. We use an extensive interpretive case study as our empirical foundation, generated in collaboration with three Swedish municipalities, complemented with interviews with RPA consultants. Through interpretive analysis, we generate challenges along four themes. Our analysis shows that RPA implementation requires that different organizational sub-units and stakeholders cooperate. Challenges arise from: initiating RPA top-down without bottom-up support; insufficient process- and IT-competence; dependence on individual enthusiasts and external RPA consultants; and subsequent difficulties in finding the right processes to automate. Our study contributes with empirical illustrations of how RPA implementation is made difficult by current organizational structures and resources. We confirm and further contribute to previous findings by pointing to multiple dimensions in which challenges can arise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG , 2022. Vol. 13391, p. 353-368
Series
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743
Keywords [en]
Automation; Public sector; Municipality level; Robotic process automation; Case study
National Category
Information Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-189970DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-15086-9_23ISI: 000874748500023ISBN: 9783031150869 (electronic)ISBN: 9783031150852 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-189970DiVA, id: diva2:1711255
Conference
21st IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference on Electronic Government (EGOV) / Conference on E-Democracy and Open Government Conference (CeDEM) / IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference on Electronic Participation (EPart), Linkopings Univ, Dept Management & Engn, Div Informat Syst & Digitalizat, Linkoping, SWEDEN, sep 06-08, 2022
Note

Funding Agencies|AFA Insurance (AFA Forsakring) [190200]

Available from: 2022-11-16 Created: 2022-11-16 Last updated: 2024-06-19
In thesis
1. Process Automation in Swedish Municipalities: Stakeholders, Challenges, and Public Values
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Process Automation in Swedish Municipalities: Stakeholders, Challenges, and Public Values
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Processautomatisering i svenska kommuner : Intressenter, utmaningar, och offentliga värden
Abstract [en]

The use of process automation has spread in Swedish municipalities to automate administrative processes, but the knowledge of how this plays out in practice is limited. The employee perspective is under-researched and more knowledge on how process automation is understood by and affects stakeholders is needed. Additionally, as process automation has proven difficult in practice, investigating these challenges can help practitioners. This dissertation investigates what stakeholders are involved in process automation initiatives in Swedish municipalities, how they view process automation, and what challenges are faced as part of these initiatives. These views and challenges are analyzed with a combined analytical lens of stakeholder theory and public value. This answers previous calls for research on how technology in public sector organizations relates to different underlying values. This is a compilation dissertation based on six research papers. The research process is based on a qualitative and interpretative approach, where most of the empirical material consists of interviews with employees involved in process automation initiatives in three Swedish municipalities. The analysis revolves around the identification of five stakeholder groups: Automation strategists, Support staff, Operational staff, IT personnel, and RPA companies. These stakeholder groups have different views on process automation and hold different perspectives of what the automation of processes will lead to. The challenges of process automation initiatives include the need for different competencies, lacking stakeholder buy-in, and difficulties in identifying processes to automate. Using the combined analytical lens of stakeholder theory and public value, these views and challenges are analyzed further, showing that they can be understood as different stakeholders striving for different sets of values as well as having different perspectives on how values relate to one another and how technology affects these relationships. The dissertation concludes that process automation has a more limited scope than was initially expected based on the policy push for process automation, that it is driven by and focuses on a particular set of values that are seen by some as incompatible with other sets of values, and that the challenges that emerge can be thought of as tensions that can and should occur to achieve a balance between different public values.

Abstract [sv]

Användning av processautomation har spridit sig bland svenska kommuner för att automatisera administrativa processer, men kunskap om hur detta utspelar sig i praktiken är begränsad. Medarbetarperspektivet inom detta område är relativt outforskat och mer kunskap om hur processautomation förstås av och påverkar olika intressenter behövs. Då processautomatisering har visat sig vara svårt i praktiken kan praktiker också gagnas av en utökad förståelse kring utmaningar som uppstår. Denna avhandling undersöker vilka intressenter som är involverade i initiativ för processautomation i svenska kommuner, deras perspektiv på processautomation, och vilka utmaningar som uppstår som del av dessa initiativ. Dessa perspektiv och utmaningar analyseras med en kombinerad analytisk lins bestående av intressentteori och offentliga värden. Detta svarar på tidigare uppmaningar till forskning om hur teknik i offentliga organisationer förhåller sig till olika underliggande värden. Detta är en sammanläggningsavhandling baserad på sex artiklar. Forskningsprocessen bygger på ett kvalitativt och tolkande förhållningssätt, där huvuddelen av det empiriska materialet består av intervjuer med medarbetare som varit involverade i initiativ för processautomation i tre svenska kommuner. Avhandlingens analys involverar identifiering av fem intressentgrupper: Automationsstrateger, Stödfunktioner, Kärnverksamhet, IT-personal och RPA-företag. Dessa intressentgrupper har olika syn på processautomation och har olika perspektiv på vad automatiseringen av processer kommer att leda till. Utmaningarna med initiativ för processautomation är behov av olika kompetenser, bristande motivation hos intressenter och svårigheter med att identifiera processer att automatisera. Utifrån den analytiska linsen analyseras dessa perspektiv och utmaningar vidare, vilket visar att de kan förstås som att olika intressenter strävar efter olika värden, samt har olika perspektiv på hur värden relaterar till varandra och hur teknik påverkar dessa relationer. Slutsatserna visar att processautomation är i praktiken mer begränsat än vad som ursprungligen förväntades, att processautomation drivs av och fokuserar på en viss uppsättning värden som av vissa ses som oförenliga med andra uppsättningar av värden, och att utmaningarna som uppstår kan ses som spänningar som kan och bör uppstå för att uppnå en balans mellan olika offentliga värden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2024. p. 100
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 886
Keywords
Process automation, RPA, Public sector, Municipalities, Challenges, Public value, Processautomation, RPA, Offentlig sektor, Kommuner, Utmaningar, Offentliga värden
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-205052 (URN)9789180757133 (ISBN)9789180757140 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-09-20, ACAS, A Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-06-19 Created: 2024-06-19 Last updated: 2024-06-19Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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