The (next) savior has arrived? New technologies in the public sector and related citizens’ expectations


  • Caroline Fischer University of Twente
  • Matthias Döring University of Southern Denmark



Digitalization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, citizen expectation, public values, technology


Advancements in technology prompt debates on their transformative potential in public service delivery. We explore citizens' perceptions through analyzing their empirical and normative expectations towards the implementation of new technology (such as AI, big data, and robotization). Findings from Germany (n=1,577) and Austria (n=413) reveal modest expectations both related to public and private sector services, tempered by contextual factors such as digitalization levels in both countries. Expectations have been analyzed related to different public values, suggesting that the highest hopes related to the impact of new technologies are related to gains in efficiency and affordability of services. Despite aspirational hopes for improved public service delivery, citizens remain skeptical about governments' capacity to fulfill them. We advocate for a citizen-centered approach, emphasizing societal dialogue and participatory decision-making to ensure technological interventions align with citizens' needs and values. Ultimately, realizing meaningful transformation in public services requires bridging the gap between citizens' expectations and pragmatic assessments.

Author Biographies

Caroline Fischer, University of Twente

Caroline Fischer is Assistant Professor in the section Public Administration within the Faculty of Behavioral, Management & Social Sciences at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. She is particularly interested in topics related to error, risk, crisis and learning, human resource management in the public sector as well technological development in government.

Matthias Döring, University of Southern Denmark

Matthias Döring is Associate Professor in Public Administration and Welfare and Politics at the department of Political Science and Public Management at the University of Southern Denmark. His research focuses on citizen-state interactions, street-level bureaucracy, digital transformation, and leadership.


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