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Role of IT in Public Administration


Admission requirements



The course focuses on IT challenges from a public governance perspective. This includes providing a basic understanding of the politico-administrative characteristics that distinguish public from private organizations and how these characteristics affect people working with IT. The course will include problems and solutions that are specific to working with IT in such public environments.

The course offers a comparative assessment of public administrations around the world with emphasis on the Dutch system. Students will be introduced to Public Administration theories and the workings of government as well as different themes that are linked to the major problems identified for IT projects within government. The themes include aspects of leadership in the public realm, public performance, the governance of new technologies and public challenges in the big data age. Students will further have the opportunity to connect with government officials and private sector representatives to pitch ideas and discuss challenges that stakeholders currently face in the field.

Course objectives

The course aims at providing a deeper understanding of the issues, challenges and opportunities
engendered by the rapid changes in IT and its applications in government over recent years. By the end of the course, the you will:

  • have an understanding of the basic public administration concepts;

  • be able to write a policy recommendation based on real-world challenges in combination with theoretical insights;

  • understand public sector specific aspects of leadership, management and decision-making;

  • be able to identify key dynamics of the Dutch system that facilitate or hinder IT implementation.


The schedule can be found on the Leiden University student website

Detailed table of contents can be found in blackboard.

Mode of instruction

The course is based on a combination of lectures, class discussions and some practical exercises. The lectures will present the background material for each session. Do not expect the lectures to cover each and every topic from the assigned readings. Instead, the lectures will be mostly focused on the more difficult and controversial issues. Hence, it is essential that you read the assigned literature in advance of the sessions.

Assessment method

❏ Bi-weekly discussion questions (10%)
Preparation of discussion questions for each lecture based on the assigned readings. Those questions will be used throughout the lecture to touch upon different aspects of the literature. ❏ Essay (30%)
The essay will address a question from the general public administration literature and its connection to IT-related challenges and should be treated as an assignment building up to the final paper. ❏ Final paper (60%)
The final paper is a policy recommendation which builds on the essay.



Reading list

  • Bannister, F. 2012. Plus Ça Change? ICT and Structural Change in Government. In: I.Th.M. Snelle n et al. (Eds.), Public Administration in the Information Age: Revisited. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 133-143. (Available as e-book through the library)

  • Bekkers, V and V. Homburg. 2007.The Myths of E-Government: Looking Beyond the Assumptions of a New and Better Government. The Information Society 23 (5), 373-382.

  • Cordella, A. and C.M. Bonina. 2012. A public value perspective for ICT enabled public sector reforms: A theoretical reflection. Government Information Quarterly 29, 512-520.

  • Ebrahim, Z. and Z. Irani. 2005. E-government adoption: Architecture and barriers. Business Process Management 11 (5), 589-611.

  • Fishenden, J. and M. Thompson. 2012. Digital Government, Open Architecture, and Innovation: Why Public Sector IT will never be the same again. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 23, 977-1004.

  • Frederickson. H.G., Smith, K.B., Larimer, C.W. and M.J. Licari. The Public Administration Theory Primer. Second Edition, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. (Available as e-book through the library, Read : Chapter 4 & 9).

  • Gichoya, D. 2005. Factors affecting the successful implementation of ICT Projects in Government. Electronic Journal of e-Government 3 (4), 175-184. Available online at

  • Heeks, R. 2005. e Government as a carrier of context. Journal of Public Policy, 25, 51 -74.

  • Kim, G.-H., Trimi, S. and J.-H. Chung. 2014. Big-Data Applications in the Government Sector. Communications of the ACM 57 (3), 78-85.

  • Klievink, B., Romijn, B.-J., Cunningham, S. and H. de Bruijn. 2016. Big data in the public sector: Uncertainties and readiness. Inf Syst Front DOI 10.1007/s10796-016-9686-2.

  • Kuipers, B. S., Higgs, M., Kickert, W., Tummers, L., Grandia, J., & Van der Voet, J. 2014. The management of change in public organizations: A literature review. Public Administration, 92(1), 1-20.

  • O'Neill, R. 2009. The transformative impact of e-government on public governance in New Zealand. Public Management Review, 11 (6), 751-770.

  • Sivarajah, U., Weerakkody, V., Waller, P., Lee, H., Irani, Z., Choi, Y., Morgan, R. and Y. Glikman. 2016. The role of e-participation and open data in evidence-based policy decision making in local government. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce 26 (1-2), 64-79.

  • Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal. 2015. Parlementair onderzoek naar ICT-projecten bij de overheid. 33 326, Nr. 5. Available at here . [ Read : Conclusies en aanbevelingen, pp.9-23; De beheersstructuur van ICT-projecten: de achilleshiel van de rijksoverheid, pp.72-96)

Signing up for classes and exams

You have to sign up for classes and examinations (including resits) in uSis. Check this link for more information and activity codes.

There is only limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme Co-ordinator

Contact information

Programme Co-ordinator: ms. Judith Havelaar