Presentation at CAPPA

This week I presented a paper at the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA) conference at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada). The paper I presented was part of the e-Government panel, and assessed how departments in the welfare policy sectors in Canada and the UK are adapting (or not) to new digital information networks. The conclusion: despite the potential gains in effectiveness and efficiency offered by the social web, civil servants in this policy sector are not capitalizing on social media and related phenomena to improve their work. I argued that this isn't just a case of governments moving more slowly than the fast pace of technological change, or the public sector lagging behind the private sector (where the social web has been adopted much more readily). Rather, the social web clashes in significant ways with the organizational structures, norms and values of public sector bureaucracies, typified by the departments responsible for welfare and benefits in Canada and the UK. Without examining and reforming these deeply entrenched features of contemporary bureaucracy, these departments will have little scope to meaningfully improve their operations when they take up the social web as a policy instrument.

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