Public values in the age of big data: A public information perspective

Alex Ingrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Public administration scholars have so far largely viewed big data as a kind of technocratic transformation. However, through citizens’ digital records, use of service apps, social media, digital sensors, and other digital footprints, big data also gives policymakers insights into citizen choices and is therefore potentially supportive of public values such as participation and openness. Focusing on two underexplored countries, Germany and the Netherlands, this article develops a public values framework for big data that considers citizen values alongside technocratic ones. It takes the particular case of public information agencies such as ombudsmen and courts of audit, examining the functions they play and whether they have the capacity to address tensions arising between technocratic and citizen values. The study finds that, while capacity does exist, it is heavily tilted toward technocratic values, with no capacity to address participative values. Finally, five propositions are advanced, which describe where the tensions lie and therefore where the attention of public information agencies should best be focused.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-148
JournalPolicy and Internet
Issue number2
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


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