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Organizing for Robotic Process Automation in Local Government: Observations from Two Case Studies of Robotic Process Automation Implementation in Swedish Municipalities

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Abstract

Automation of internal administrative processes tied to the delivery of public services is outlined as a continuation of the development toward a more digital, efficient, and effective local government. However, this development is often based on unrealistic expectations of the transformative power of digital technologies. It is therefore important to further understand automation as a driver of digital transformation of local government organizations. Automation, in this chapter, is understood as a change from a function previously carried out by a human to being performed by a machine agent (e.g., robotic process automation). We explore and compare how initiatives to implement robotic process automation (RPA) are organized in two Swedish municipalities. Our analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with employees working in the two municipalities. The analysis shows interesting patterns across the cases concerning dissonances and disconnects between stakeholders on different levels in the organizations, making this kind of development difficult. Our results contribute with (a) empirical illustrations that show how general policies on process automation promoted by policymakers are influencing the organization of IT and work in local government practice; (b) challenges that affect the implementation of RPA in local government; and (c) point to a set of observations that require further research.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-92644-1_10
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Notes

  1. 1.

    The respective case studies are part of two research projects funded by AFA Försäkring (eng. AFA Insurance). The case Municipality East is part of a project run by researchers at Linköping University (see Lindgren, 2020; Lindgren et al., 2021; Söderström et al., 2021; Toll et al., 2021). The case Municipality West is part of a project run by researchers at Halmstad University (see Åkesson and Thomsen, 2020).

  2. 2.

    The Gartner Hype Cycle involves the following steps: (1) Innovation trigger, (2) Peak of inflated expectations, (3) Trough of disillusionment, (4) Slope of enlightenment, and (5) Plateau of productivity. Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/research/methodologies/gartner-hype-cycle

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Acknowledgments

The research presented in this chapter was financed by AFA Försäkring (AFA Insurance).

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Correspondence to Ida Lindgren .

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Lindgren, I., Åkesson, M., Thomsen, M., Toll, D. (2022). Organizing for Robotic Process Automation in Local Government: Observations from Two Case Studies of Robotic Process Automation Implementation in Swedish Municipalities. In: Juell-Skielse, G., Lindgren, I., Åkesson, M. (eds) Service Automation in the Public Sector. Progress in IS. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-92644-1_10

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