On Public Values and Information Technology in Government: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Trade Regulations in Mexico

Carla Bonina
2012 Zenodo  
The use of the internet and related information and communication technologies (ICT) in public administration (known as 'e-government') has gained notable space within 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 understudied or taken for
more » ... d. 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 discussions 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 marginalized 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 implicat [...]
doi:10.5281/zenodo.1322748 fatcat:nnxl3dte25f37n6auz72p5r6i4