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Bringing all clients into the system: Professional digital discretion to enhance inclusion when services are automated
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2118-2152
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. Division of Political Science, Department of Management, Linköping University, Linköping (SWE). (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9905-0942
2022 (English)In: Information Polity, ISSN 1570-1255, E-ISSN 1875-8754, Vol. 27, no 3, p. 373-389Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The increasing use of automated systems for decision-making and decision support in public administration is forming new practices and challenging public values since public services must be impartially accessible and designed for everyone. New robotistic process automation (RPA) systems are generally designed based on back-office structures. This requires clients to submit relevant data correctly in order for these services to function. However, not all potential or intended users of these services have the competence and the capacity to submit accurate data in the correct way. Front-line case workers at public agencies play critical roles in supporting those who have problems using the services due to the a forementioned accessibility requirements and there by work in bridging digital divides. This article analyses strategies used by front-line case workers to complement RPA and improve the inclusion of all clients in the services. It builds on qualitative case studies at two Swedish authorities, including in-depth interviews and observations. The study shows that the discretion of the front-line case workers is limited by the RPA systems, and they also have limited discretion to support clients in their use of the digital services. Instead, they develop strategies in line with more service- and socially-oriented values; duty-oriented values are integrated into the RPA. The analysis shows the importance of forming new support structures for inclusion when public services are automated to maintain the core public values of inclusion and democratic legitimacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IOS Press, 2022. Vol. 27, no 3, p. 373-389
Keywords [en]
Front-line case workers, robotic process automation, inclusion, impartiality
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19408DOI: 10.3233/ip-200268ISI: 000852884600006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85137987628OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19408DiVA, id: diva2:1715269
Available from: 2022-12-01 Created: 2022-12-01 Last updated: 2022-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Bernhard, IréneWihlborg, Elin

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