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Value positions in digitalization and automated decision-making in social work

Conference contribution
Authors Agneta Ranerup
Published in SWEG 2018 The 15th Scandinavian Workshop on E-Government January 31st to February 1st, 2018
Publisher Copenhagen Business School
Place of publication Copenhagen
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Digitalization; Values; Automated decision-making; Social Work
Subject categories Information Systems, Social aspects, Public Administration Studies


Studies of values in digitalization of the public sector is a growing stream of research. In the present study, an established framework of values is applied to the specific context of digitalization and robotisation of social work. The framework includes the concepts of Professionalism, Efficiency, Service and Engagement. A content analysis is made of interviews with politicians, civil servants as well as documents. The research question is: What values appear in digitalization and automation of decision-making in social work? Improved service levels and citizen centeredness, enhanced internal efficiency due to a streamlined and digitalized processes, and improved accountability through automation were some of the detected values. Congruence between Economic and Service values was found, as well as divergence between instances of values related to Professionalism and Service. These later values contribute to a critical discourse on digitalization and automated decision-making in the form of not being transparent regarding who makes the decisions, a focus on individual responsibility rather than offering economic support and making unwanted changes in the tasks of professionals. A further input to a critical discourse is a new type of Engagement value related to disseminating local models of decision-making and digitalization as a contribution a national, political debate.

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