The impacts of Information technology on public administration: an analysis of empirical research from the “golden age” of transformation
The impacts of information technology (IT) on public administration and the public sector are assessed by analyzing the empirical research reported in more than 1,000 issues of recent research journals (published between 1987 and 2000). These impacts are categorized in terms of four broad taxonomic domains and 22 specific impact categories. Almost half of the 230 specific findings identify changes in the capabilities of public sector units to perform functions and more than one-fourth of the findings involve changes in patterns of interaction among political actors. Relatively few IT-related changes affect the distribution of values or the orientations of political actors. In general, the highest proportions of positive impacts from IT are associated with the efficiency and rationality of behavior by units of public administration. The higher incidences of negative impacts tend to involve the more subjective effects of IT on people, in their roles as private citizens (e.g., privacy) or as public employees (e.g., job satisfaction, discretion). It is striking that there are relatively few grounded, empirical studies of the impacts of IT on public administration in the journals analyzed. About half of the empirical studies focus primarily on local level units of public administration, and most studies employ case-study methodology, with nearly one-half of the studies reporting on non-U.S. sites. The summarized and detailed findings in the article are offered as building blocs for more grounded theory on the impacts of IT on public administration and the public sector.