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Disruptive Technologies and the Public Sector: The Changing Dynamics of Governance

  • Christine Leitner
  • Christian M. StiefmuellerEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Technological innovation has shaped and transformed society again and again over the course of history. In this context, the advent of the “digital age” is no exception. However, what has changed is the speed with which waves of new technologies advance and spread. Such innovations as the Internet and mobile phones have emerged and wrought profound changes on societies across the globe within the space of only a few decades. And there are still more such disruptive technologies on the horizon, that is, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Consequently, technology-driven new business models, the geographical dispersion of production, and the invention of new products and services are all challenging traditional governance patterns and modes of operation around the world and how governments are perceived by citizens. In this context, this chapter focuses on how disruptive technologies affect the role of the State and on the new challenges they pose to policymakers against the underlying conundrum. On the one hand, there is widespread belief that the judicious use of technology is imperative for economic and social development and a potential key accelerator and enabler for many, perhaps all, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On the other hand, however, we still need to fully understand, and adapt to, the governance challenges that arise as a consequence of this unprecedented rate of technological progress. Thus, this chapter looks at how the process of technology adoption interacts with the policy cycle taking into account the three-dimensional relationship between government and technological innovation, since government assumes three different roles, that is, user, regulator, and promoter of innovation. It also summarises briefly what are considered to be some of the most significant technological trends of today and the particular opportunities and challenges they pose for policymakers. In doing this, it singles out some of the key policy issues that emerge from the disruptive nature of such technologies, while at the same time it discusses their implications on public governance. It concludes with a number of key takeaways.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Economics and Public Administration (CEPA)LondonUK

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