Towards a Data-Driven Public Administration: An Empirical Analysis of Nascent Phase Implementation

Heather Broomfield, Lisa Marie Reutter


This paper aims to demystify the concept of data-driven public administration and lay bare the complexity involved in its implementation. It asks the overall research question of what challenges are encountered and problematised in a nascent phase of data-driven public administration implementation. The analysis is based on a multi-method research design, including a survey, follow-up interviews with practitioners and an analysis of key policy documents in the context of the Norwegian public sector. It highlights areas of both discrepancy and harmony between what has been prioritised at the policy level and the reality of implementation on the ground. In addition, unseen issues are discussed in order to broaden this perspective. Data-driven administrative reform touches upon everything from organisational culture to technical infrastructure and legal and regulatory frameworks. The complexity laid out in the analysis thus has implications for theory and practice. Nordic countries provide an interesting object of investigation, as they hold vast amounts of data and are highly digitalised, yet, in common with many other governments, they are still in a nascent phase of implementation. This paper should therefore be relevant to other jurisdictions and it provides a call to arms for civil servants and public administration scholars to engage more deeply in this phenomenon.


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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413