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Actors and Intentions in the Dissemination of Robotic Process Automation in Social Work

Part of the Progress in IS book series (PROIS)

Abstract

Automated decision-making is prevalent in numerous areas of the public sector. Based on the results of a qualitative, event-based study of how robotic process automation (RPA) is discussed and implemented in social work in Sweden, two questions are answered in this paper: What actors, intentions and network formations appear in the dissemination of RPA in the management of applications for social assistance in Sweden? What are the key, sometimes conflicting, intentions from a social work and a general public sector perspective? A spectrum of national, municipal and local actors—including technologies such as e-applications and RPA—are actively involved in the dissemination. A few important intentions are, for example, promoting the use of RPA, saving time and resources and answering the issue of ‘why’ RPA should be implemented. From a social work perspective, a key consideration and conflict relates to the core of social work, especially regarding the intention of helping people to become self-supporting. The more general considerations are related to intentions about implementing RPA to improve efficiency and effectiveness, as well as caseworkers’ discretion in view of laws regulating automated decision-making. Future research should focus on the actual effects of RPA on efficiency and effectiveness and caseworkers’ discretion in view of new laws and longer experiences with RPA.

Keywords

  • Robotic process automation
  • Automated decision-making
  • Social work
  • Actor-network theory

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Correspondence to Agneta Ranerup .

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Thanks are due to Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare grant no. 2019-00710 for funding our research.

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Ranerup, A., Svensson, L. (2022). Actors and Intentions in the Dissemination of Robotic Process Automation in Social Work. 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_7

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