Will the promise of big data survive the dynamics of public decision making? The need for checks and balances

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Abstract

Big data holds the promise to transform public decision making for the better, by making it more responsive to actual needs and policy effects. However, much recent work on big data in public decision making is based on a rational view on decision-making, which is not unproblematic. In this paper, we apply the public administration debate on rational versus political decision making to the context of big data. This leads us describe the ‘politics of algorithms’; vital choices in the decision-making process are made (wittingly or not) by analysts, whereas decision-makers might also not be neutral to the result. Our argument implies that more empirical research should focus on the complex relationship between the analyst and the decision maker instead of on information provision and decision-making as mere activities. By focusing on the interaction between analysts and decision-makers as actors, the politics of algorithms become more significant. The theoretical observations we make, serve as an analytical lens through which we consider this relation between analysts and decision-makers in an illustrative case.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2016 EGPA Annual Conference; European Group for Public Administration
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event2016 EGPA Annual Conference; European Group for Public Administration - Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 23 Aug 201625 Aug 2016

Conference

Conference2016 EGPA Annual Conference; European Group for Public Administration
Abbreviated titleEGPA
CountryNetherlands
CityUtrecht
Period23/08/1625/08/16

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