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

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Policy & Governance, Topic: Socioecological Design, Topic: Sociotechnical Systems

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.




Citation Data

Author(s): Tabea Glahs, Maria Haukali and Marcela Urbano
Year: 2023
Title: Towards Holistic Digital Transformation: Exploring multiple perspectives on e-government in the Municipality of Oslo
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 10 November 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

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In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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