Local Values and e-Government - Continuity and Change in Public Administration Implementing Public e-Services in Two Swedish Municipalities
Abstract: E-government, the use of information and communication technology in public administration, is often presented as a multifaceted reform with powerful transforming potential. E-government currently embodies both hopes of more efficient public administration and fears that an overemphasis on efficiency will neglect the democratic values of public administration.This study sets out to increase the understanding of the relationship between local values in public administration and e-government. It does so by analyzing and comparing the significance of the introduction of public e-services for core values in two Swedish municipal organizations: Botkyrka and Nacka. To be more exact, what happens to local core values when public e-services are implemented? In doing so, the study contributes to research on reforms and their consequences for the function of public administration today and more specifically, to the discussion on “government” in e-government research.A neo-institutional outlook with a special emphasis on core values in processes of continuity and change is used as an explanatory framework. The results of the study show the significance of the local institutional setting in defining the process and outcomes of public e-service implementation. Through a local framing of the policy, key actors within both municipalities perceive e-services as mutually supportive of existing core values, despite fundamental differences in values. Nevertheless, practices in the provision of e-services and the inherent characteristics of the technology reveal a higher level of conflict. These could have implications for local core values and, in the long run, for the view of the role of public organizations and citizens.
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