Closer Together or Further Apart? : Public administration and archives in the digital age

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Publication Details
Author list: Klareld, Ann-Sofie
Publisher: Mid Sweden University
Place: Sundsvall
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-91-88527-25-7


The research presented in this thesis is about recordkeeping in the public sector, focusing especially on the relationship between the public administration and its archives, and selected aspects affecting the way this relationship is developing in the digital era. Two research questions are addressed: RQ1: What are ‘archives’ and ‘recordkeeping’ in the digital context and the developing e-government? RQ2: What are the indications of current and future challenges regarding the cooperation between public administration and archives? Six studies resulting in six papers form the basis of the thesis. Each study explores a unique aspect of how current developments, discussions, and decisions affect contemporary understanding and practices regarding archives and recordkeeping. Public records are authoritative information resources, crucial in the everyday lives of citizens. Public recordkeeping develops continuously alongside administrative practices, technological achievements, and political goals. Examples include the development of shared services within the public sector and the involvement of the private sector in public infrastructure projects through outsourcing. These processes are currently affected both by digital technologies, which offer new possibilities to create, use, and preserve records, and by e-government, characterized by the combination of information and communication technologies with organizational change to improve public services and democratic participation. In these processes, existing practices are reviewed and revised, and the concepts of ‘archives’ and ‘recordkeeping’ redefined. The research was pursued using an interpretive approach. The research methods used were concept analysis; discourse analysis; literary warrant analysis; phenomenography; critical theory; and the records continuum model as a theoretical structure. The results shows that common usage of the terms ‘archive’ and ‘recordkeeping’ is fluid and changing, which can make decision-making challenging and affect the relationship between archives and administration. Efforts to develop recordkeeping strategies may be hampered by factors related to the different ways in which the nature and role of archives and recordkeeping are perceived, including differing understandings of related concepts; varying discourses on what an archive (or e-archive) is or should be, and different ways of interpreting legal frameworks and their significance.

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