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Abstract

New information technologies have the potential for transforming the ways governments are organized, the activities they perform, the manner which they are performed, and the nature of work itself. Governments in the US and Scandinavia have followed fundamental different approaches to the introduction of computing and to dealing with its effects. In the US, automation has been individualistic— each individual unit of government has introduced the technology for its own needs. For the most part, the systems that have been implemented have been small scale, have followed functional lines, have merely automated existing operations, have been implemented incrementally, and have evolved slowly over time. In contrast, in Scandinavia automation has been communal-systems have been designed, developed, and implemented by communal data processing agencies serving an entire level of government-national or local. The systems that have been introduced have been relatively large scale, have crossed functional lines, have involved the reorganization of work, have integrated both data and work processes, and have been implemented more or less simultaneously for all units or agencies of government. These differences in approach to automation have influences each country’s view of the role of government in anticipating and dealing with the effects of changes in computer technology on the public workforce.

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