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On public values and information technology in government: a critical discourse analysis of trade regulations in Mexico

Bonina, Carla (2012) On public values and information technology in government: a critical discourse analysis of trade regulations in Mexico. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The use of the internet and related information and communication technologies (ICT) in public administration (known as 'e-government') has gained notable space within the processes of public sector reform. Arguably, ICT provide an attractive strategy to reorganize internal government tasks, routines and processes and to make them more efficient, responsive as well as accountable to citizens. Yet, the linkages between public values and e-government programmes remain understudies or taken for granted. My research focuses on this particular aspect of public sector reforms and organising. It engages with the debates towards modernisation of central government services while contributing to discussion of the relation between technologically induced programmes and public values over time. Using critical discourse analysis, I trace the discourses on public values and technology within a longitudinal case of a technology-enabled platform to facilitate foreign trade regulations in Mexico - the Mexican Single Window for Foreign Trade. In my empirical analysis, I examine a combination of key government texts and extensive data from fieldwork to address two related questions: what public values are presented, enacted or marginalised during the trajectory of the case, and how these values are enacted and operationalised into technology over time. The analysis reveals four distinctive discourses on public values and technology: 'technical efficiency', 'legality and honesty', 'robustness' and '(forced) cooperation'. The analysis shows that while the technical efficiency cluster - commonly associated to the new public management ethos - is dominating, it cohabits with and is reinforced by other values more broadly related to traditional public administration and the bureaucratic ethos - that is, legality and honesty. In addition, the analysis shows that these four distinctive discourses have been materialised in technology in different degrees, giving rise to tensions and contestation over time. In light of the findings, I draw implications for theorizing public values and technology innovation within public sector reforms in a given context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Carla Bonina
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Avgerou, Chrisanthi

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