Tabea Glahs, Maria Haukali and Marcela Urbano
During the past decades, digital transformation has affected all aspects of human life, 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, thereby potentially destabilising democracy (Zavolokina et al., 2023). At the same time, the complexity of the public sector, for instance, in the legal and organisational landscape, poses challenges to its digital transformation.
Our presentation offers a systems oriented design-led investigation of the digital transformation within the complex landscape of the municipality of Oslo. It aims to critically reflect upon the system(s) in which the authors operate as service designers in the digitalisation agency Origo within the Municipality of Oslo, Norway.
This work is rooted in praxeology 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 will explore the system(s) from each perspective, aiming to identify system boundaries, relevant human- and nonhuman actants (Latour, 1990), 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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. 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 on 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 gives insights and understanding of the challenges and potentials practitioners working within e-government face.