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Technological innovation and disruption was a big theme of the WEF 2014 in Davos: but where was government?

The 2014 meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) aimed to develop the insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to the profound political, economic, social and technological forces that are transforming our lives, communities and institutions. OII Director Helen Margetts reports her experience of the event and reflects on an absent guest from this feast of futurism — the nature of government in a rapidly changing world.

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Five recommendations for maximising the relevance of social science research for public policy-making in the big data era

In a previous post, OII Director Helen Margetts outlined ways in which the environment in which public policy is made has entered a period of dramatic change; one in which ‘big data’ presents both promises and threats to policy-makers. Here she discusses how social scientists can help policy-makers in this changed environment, ensuring that social science research remains relevant, and warns that social science concerns or questions may be increasingly ignored if ‘big data’ education and training is left completely in the hands of computer scientists.

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The promises and threats of big data for public policy-making

The environment in which public policy is made has entered a period of dramatic change; one in which ‘big data’ presents both promises and threats to policy-makers. Big data offers a chance for policy-making and implementation to be more citizen-focused, taking account of citizens’ needs, preferences and experience of public services. But it is also technologically challenging for government, and presents new moral and ethical dilemmas to policy makers. OII Director Helen Margetts discusses how policy-makers might respond to this changed environment.

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Responsible research agendas for public policy in the era of big data

The availability of big datasets offers great potential to shape and influence policy outcomes, as well as the means by which policy-making is undertaken. But it remains unclear how government might make best use of this rich source of information, or with what practical and ethical implications. Victoria Nash (OII) discusses a recent OII workshop that explored how policy-makers, analysts and researchers should respond to the threats and promises offered by big data to public policy making and government services.

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How are internal monitoring systems being used to tackle corruption in the Chinese public administration?

Digital surveillance technologies allow for monitoring of public employees to an extent previously impossible and thus hold great promise as a cure for corruption in China: Premier Wen Jiabao estimated in 2008 that for a five-year period the amount of misused government funds was around 400 billion RMB (about 40 billion GBP). Jesper Schlæger (Sichuan University) discusses the internal anti-corruption systems that have been developed by the Chinese government over the past twenty years in order to promote transparency and “governing in the sunlight.”

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