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How are citizens’ public service choices supported in quasi-markets?

Conference paper
Authors Agneta Ranerup
Lars Norén
Published in 12th Scandinavian Workshop on E-government (SWEG 2015), Copenhagen, Denmark, 3-4 February 2015.
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Language en
Keywords Electronic government, Quasi-markets, Decision support, Sociomateriality, Citizen
Subject categories Other Social Sciences


Many countries have introduced quasi-market reforms that enable citizens’ choice in education, healthcare, and other public services. The research question in this paper is the following: How can Web-based decision support enhance citizens’ ability to make informed/calculated public service choices in quasi-markets? In the theory section, the paper focuses on how decision support design contributes to citizens’ ability to make informed/calculated choices. A case study, set in Sweden, explores 14 cases of decision support in education, healthcare, elder care, and the public pension system. Decision support is most evident in the area of education, but decision support is found in the other areas as well. In most cases, the support consists of information on the right of choice and instructions on how to search among alternatives. Many areas permit direct comparisons, but some areas only permit more indirect comparisons. All 14 cases explain how to make a choice, but only a few cases offer a ranking device. The decision support for choice is inconsistent with the theoretical model of informed/calculated choice in some aspects despite the trend toward greater consistency with the model. Our results call for a critical discussion of citizens as consumers or customers in their relationship with public services.

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