Ledelse og styring i den digitale bølge

Helga Mohr & Alice Højmose

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


The subject of this thesis is the opportunities and limitations provided by digitalization for public sector management. The analysis progresses in three steps: We look at what dis-courses are central to the implementation of digital solutions; what perceptions of manage-ment emerge in relation to various digital management technologies; finally, we look at how managers at the Danish taxation authority (Skat) act strategically in relation to the institu-tional opportunities and limitations of digitalization. Based on the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe we analyze how the digitalization of the public sector is argued for. We identify five digitalization discourses which represent different answers to how information and communication technologies can be applied. We have deno-minated the five discourses ‘channel strategy’, ‘joined-up public sector’, ‘digital management’, ‘transparency’ and ‘citizen involvement’. The channel strategy, joined-up public sector and digital management discourses are dominated by an efficiency logic; in contrast, the transpa-rency and citizen involvement discourses can be related to an efficiency logic as well as a de-mocratization logic. We find a high degree of consensus around the merits of these five dis-courses in public digitalization, but conflicting attitudes as to practical implementation. Using Henrik Frimor’s understanding of management technologies, we analyze three public digital management technologies: The joined-up digitalization strategy “Den digitale vej til fremtidens velfærd” (The Digital Road to the Welfare of the Future), the service and channel strategies of local authorities, and the Twitter profile of the central taxation authority Skat. In the case of the first two management technologies the central dichotomy is non-efficiency /efficiency as a reflection of an economically based argumentation. In relation to the Twitter profile the central dichotomy is non-participation/participation based in a democratic or po-litical argumentation. The different management technologies represent different types of argumentation and co-exist without much mutual resonance. All three management technol-ogies highlight the same ultimate goal, namely the efficient welfare state of the future. Using the insights of these two analyses, we have interviewed four managers from Skat. The analysis of the interviews is based on integrative institutional theory represented by Richard Scott and John Campbell. It seems that aiming for efficiency by introducing digital solutions has been successful in the sense that major savings have been achieved at the same time as a high degree of trust and legitimacy vis-à-vis taxpayers has been maintained. We have focused on three transformation or bricolage processes at Skat: service provision, joined-up solutions and citizen involvement. For the purposes of service provision Skat has developed digital systems which attempt to integrate aspects of formerly counter-based ser-vices in a self-service system. In relation to the joined-up public sector transformation there is agreement that the sharing of joined-up data is an important source of achieving greater effi-ciency and that there is a need for updating legislation as a consequence of the new technolo-gies. Involving citizens in the design of services has increasingly become part of the institu-tional set-up of Skat. On the basis of the analysis we have concluded that digital thinking and acting are integrated elements in Skat’s normative and cognitive structure.

EducationsMaster of Public Administration, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages122