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Towards Holistic Digital Transformation: Exploring systemic perspectives in e-government in the Municipality of Oslo

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release, Topic: Culture & Society, Topic: Policy & Governance

Tabea Glahs, Marcela Urbano, and Maria Haukali Nørregaard

Digital transformation has affected all aspects of human life during the past decades, leaving profound changes in our lifestyles and identities (Berry, 2014). Consequently, citizens have become accustomed to high-quality digital services that offer swift solutions to their diverse needs. Expectations for e-government services have risen accordingly (Twizeyimana et al., 2019), prompting the public sector to match the quality of digital services provided by industry giants such as Amazon, Google, Meta or Microsoft. Failure to keep pace with these advancements may result in a loss of sovereignty and erode citizens’ trust, potentially destabilising democracy (Zavolokina et al., 2023).

At the same time, the public sector’s complexity, for instance, in the legal and organisational landscape, poses challenges to its digital transformation.
Our presentation offers a systems analysis of the digital transformation within the complex landscape of the municipality of Oslo. This analysis aims to critically reflect upon the system(s) in which the authors operate as service designers: that is, in the digitalisation agency Origo within the Municipality of Oslo, Norway.
This work is rooted in praxeology and action research and uses a reflection on action approach (Schön, 1991). The presentation’s structure draws inspiration from Mathilda Tham’s three perspectives, referred to as “me”, “we,” and “world,” in her RSD11 presentation (Tham, 2022). These perspectives are entangled and should be seen as complementary pieces in a broader perception of the relevant system(s).

In our presentation, we explore the system(s) from these perspectives, aiming to identify system boundaries, relevant human- and nonhuman actors, crucial relationships and feedback loops, as well as analyse the system(s) behaviour and identify potential leverage points. This contribution seeks to unite current practice and research on e-government (Silcock, 2001) with a systemic perspective. It reflects on how the systems oriented designer can add value as a facilitator for a more holistic and successful digital transformation of the public sector by uniting the narrow focus of digital culture with a broader systemic view. Even though previous research has looked at the value of systemic design and systems thinking for civil service (Veale, 2014; Wildhagen, 2021), less research can be found on systemic design within e-government. This presentation thus provides novel insights into how a systems oriented perspective for e-government can potentially lead to enhanced digital services, leading to increased efficiency and quality in public service delivery. For scholars and practitioners of systemic design, this presentation provides insights and understanding of the challenges and potentials that practitioners working within e-government face.

KEYWORDS: systems oriented design, e-governance, public sector, digital transformation

RSD TOPIC(S): Policy & Governance, Society & Culture

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Citation Data

Author(s): Tabea Glahs, Marcela Urbano, and Maria Haukali Nørregaard
Year: 2023
Title: Towards Holistic Digital Transformation: Exploring systemic perspectives in e-government in the Municipality of Oslo
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/oslo-e-government-digital-transformation
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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