Public Services Reform and Information Technology in Developing Countries
Jennifer Bussell, PhD Candidate in Political Science and Researcher with the Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions (TIER) project at the University of California, Berkeley
Basic public service delivery is a common and fundamental activity of government. Yet governments in developing countries have repeatedly failed to offer effective and transparent services to their citizens. The emergence of new information and communication technologies in the 1990s offered prospects for improving service delivery, but subsequent policies to reform services vary both across and within countries. This talk will evaluate technology policy variation in the context of public service reforms in the Indian states and argue that policy differences across the states are driven not by economic development or previous technology investment, but rather by politicians’ calculations over their potential to retain power. In particular, politicians weigh expected electoral benefits from providing new goods to citizens against the expected electoral costs of reduced access to corrupt funds due to increased transparency.
Jennifer is a PhD Candidate in Political Science and Researcher with the Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions (TIER) project at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research considers both global dynamics of investments in new technologies and the politics of technology reform in national and sub-national environments.