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Five questions on event 'Leadership in the digital transition'

Minister Alexandra van Huffelen will attend the 'Leadership in the digital transition' event at Campus Wijnhaven organised by Alex Ingrams on 16 February. Five questions to Ingrams about the event.

What is the event about?

At the start of the event, Minister Van Huffelen will be presented with the recently published book titled ‘Public Management in an Information Age: towards Strategic Public Information Management’. The book is co-authored by Alex Ingrams, Albert Meijer (Utrecht University), and Stavros Zouridis (Tilburg University). It is intended to provide public managers with the knowledge about ICT they need to be able to manage strategically. Its simple message is: ICT is too important to be left to the techies, it is also a matter of strategic management. Using this premise from the book, the event ‘Leiderschap in de digitale transitie’ will explore how government employees can better adapt their work to cope with digital challenges. A panel of top managers from the Dutch government will give practical insights into the types of digitalisations they are faced with in their organisations and  discuss the opportunities to build digital government resilience and effectiveness in the future. 

How does the regular Dutch citizen profit from developments in this discipline?

In recent years we have seen how developments in digitalisation have drastically changed our lives and we have seen the potential damage that digital technology applications can cause if poorly managed. Take, for example, the algorithms that led to the disastrous Toeslagenaffaire (the social benefits affair) or the marginalisation and loneliness experienced by individuals in a digitised, post-pandemic society. But also the disturbing way social media discourse influences public discussion about pressing challenges such as societal bias, climate change, and international relations. There is an urgent need to find solutions to these problems and to make sure that we include all citizens in that discussion.

Why is this topic relevant and interesting for student?

As the digital challenges of governance will continue to increase, so will the need for skilled professionals. Especially in public sector professions such as civil servants, civic technology entrepreneurs, science journalists, and policymakers. The event will be highly relevant for students who are currently in the process of imagining the future of technology applications in government and developing skills to work in new fields. It will also be interesting for students in the new Public Administration track in Digitalisering, Data en Governance (link in Dutch) and the master's degree in Public Administration. However, students who are interested in the intersection of digital technology with other policy and administrative domains such as sustainability, security and law might also want to attend.

What is the role of the Minister of Digitalisation in all of this?

Minister van Huffelen has formulated a human-centered vision of the digital transition. This vision plays a central role in her work. According to her, this needs to be a collaborative effort and students, teachers, and policymakers in higher education have a central role to play in realizing this vision. In this respect, the publication of ‘Public Management in an Information Age’ is timely as it focuses on the need for public managers to navigate difficult aspects of the digital transition together with public values such as equality, fairness and democracy.

What does this mean for the future?

New information and communication technologies have drastically changed public management. Public managers are increasingly dependent on information gathered by complex systems. They need to be able to put in place sound IT and communication structures. The The Hague Centre for Digital Governance at the Institute of Public Administration is addressing the challenge through research and collaboration with policymakers. Educational programmes such as the new bachelor specialization in Digitalisering, Data en Governance provide students with knowledge and skills based on the latest scientific findings and an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving that combines insights from computer science, organizational theory, economics, politics, and public administration.

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