Research event

Between techno-optimism and normative-pessimism; a plea for realism in understanding the digitalisation of governments

A presentation by Prof. Bram Klievink (Leiden University). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance.

In this talk, I will examine how policy and policy implementation at different levels deal with the tension between, on the one hand, the race forward, driven by a prospect of techology-driven innovation, by wanting to better utilise data and systems, and sometimes by a near-mythical image of what AI and other digital technologies can achieve. And on the other hand, the pause, the going forward at a snail’s pace. Particularly exploring a realist perspective, understanding the role that enormous amounts of systems and applications play, as well as the data that is collected and structured in ways that may make them unsuitable for the very innovations they are meant to drive. The realism about how existing practices, full IT agendas, limited budgets, limited expertise, resistance, and existing organisational structures exert pressure on how policy can be implemented in a digital age.

Bram Klievink is professor and chair of ‘Digitalisation and Public Policy’ at the Public Administration Institute at Leiden University in The Netherlands, where he also leads The Hague Centre for Digital Governance. He has a multi-disciplinary background with degrees in information technology; political science; and technology and public administration. His research focuses on understanding the complexities of digital technologies in public policy and policy implementation.

He (co-)leads several large research projects, for instance a multidisciplinary project where a team of computer scientists, behavioural, organisation and governance scholars work together on data-driven innovations for national cybersecurity and another on hybrid (AI+human) intelligence workflows in government. He supervises PhD projects on e.g. automated information sharing in the public sector, the impacts of hybrid workflows on public sector professionals, citizen perceptions on novel technologies, the use of data in surveillance, and on public sector organisation’s innovation capabilities. He is a member of several (steering) committees and workshops on AI, data and digitalisation at the university and the national level.

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