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'The Emperor's New Clothes' Recordkeeping in a New Context
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Archives and Computer Science.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines if and how information capture and documentation practices and the function of the public archive are changing in relation to archival concepts in contemporary administrative settings, as a result of e-government strategic development. The study aims for a holistic approach from the beginning of the life of the records to their long-term preservation.

This research is situated in Sweden where the recordkeeping legislation takes a holistic approach: records management is understood as a dimension of the archival function and therefore records managers have not been recognised as a professional group, however recordkeeping practice involves two occupational groups: registrars and archivists. Swedish recordkeeping legislation is based on long administrative traditions in which the public right of free access to official documents is fundamental. Registration of official documents is important as the means of facilitating the citizens´ right to free access information and registrars are primarily responsible for this process, including classification. Archivists manage the full range of recordkeeping tasks, acting not only as custodians of repositories but also strategic experts on recordkeeping as well as auditing on behalf of the archival authority.  The archive legally consists of all the ‘official documents’ created or received in the organisation.

This is an explorative and documented case study that used several local government bodies (municipalities) for the data collection by document analysis and interviews. Swedish municipalities are particularly interesting because they are autonomous in relation to the national government, with complex organisational structures consisting of several politically controlled committees and administrative departments that implement political decisions and provide services to the public. The National Archives does not have any supervisory role or monitoring function over local governments, but it does publish guidelines on recordkeeping. Nevertheless, the municipalities are controlled to a large extent by the implemented policies decided at national level by the Government and Parliament. Therefore, national initiatives regarding e-government have impacted on the municipalities’ recordkeeping.

A theoretical lens combining archival science and theory of professions has been chosen to analyse the observed changes in practice. The thesis analyses the issue of recordkeeping awareness in three arenas: the legal arena; the political arena; and the workplace arena in the light of the records continuum model.

The research findings demonstrate a gap between the legal and workplace arenas caused by lack of recordkeeping awareness primarily within the political arena. Despite the holistic view of keeping archives expressed in the recordkeeping legislation, observed practice appears closer to a life cycle model than proactive continuum thinking and planning.  A lack of recordkeeping legislation awareness in the wider organisation is potentially leading to a division between records management and archives management, jeopardising the continuum approach. Consequently registrars may in the future become more like records managers and archivists may be losing part of their professional jurisdiction. There is a strong focus on business benefits to the organisation rather than the wider view of democratic values and cultural heritage. As a result: archivists seem to suffer a lack of resources as well as skills in order to carry out their responsibilities. The future role of archival authorities such as the National Archives is unclear.

Abstract [sv]

Just nu pågår en omdaning av den offentliga förvaltningskostymen för att möta politiska mål vad gäller utveckling av den offentliga sektorn med stöd av informationsteknologi. Denna avhandling undersöker konsekvenserna av en sådan ambition genom att använda den nuvarande offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftning som en referenspunkt i syfte att undersöka vad, varför och hur implementeringen sker. I Sverige utgör de allmänna handlingarna myndighetens arkiv och skall enligt rådande arkivlagsstiftning vårdas och förvaltas så att de tillgodoser behov rörande offentlighetsinsyn, rättskipning, förvaltning och forskningen. Det finns en lång förvaltningstradition och reglering kring registrering av allmänna handlingar relaterat till offentlighetsinsynen. Myndigheternas arkiv är per definition en del av det nationella kulturarvet. Allmänna handlingar är teknikoberoende, vilket medför att oavsett om handlingarna är pappersbundna eller digitala omfattas dessa av samma regelverk. Avhandlingen söker besvara frågan: Hur medvetna är offentliga organisationer om vikten av att hantera sina allmänna handlingar i det pågående e-förvaltningsarbetet på ett sådant sätt att de uppfyller kraven i offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen samt hur påverkas arkivariers och registratorers professionella status (positioner och arbetsutövning) inom organisationerna? Vidare analyseras relationen mellan nya strategiska initiativ avseende informationsfångst och arkivlagstiftningen.

Avhandlingen förenar arkivvetenskap och professionsteori. En teoretisk analysmodell har skapats för analys av tre arenor: den legala, den politiska och arbetsplatsarenan vad gäller medvetenheten om de legala kraven gällande offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen. Förändringar avseende styrnings- och kontrollsystem på legal och politisk arena kan få konsekvenser, dels för synen på vad som definieras som arkiv, dels för professionerna (arkivarier och registratorer) på arbetsplatsarenan. Om professionerna minskar jurisdiktionen, dvs. länken mellan professionen och arbetet, riskerar de att bli marginaliserade.

Avhandlingen baseras på fallstudier i svenska kommuner. Kommuner utgör till följd av den kommunala självstyrelsen inkluderande arkivorganisationen och mångfacetterande och komplexa organisationsstruktur intressanta studieobjekt. Datainsamlingen har skett via analys av dokument och intervjuer.

Forskningsresultatet tyder på att det råder ett gap mellan den legala och verkställande arenan beroende på att de legala kraven inte beaktas tillräckligt på den politiska arenan, vilket i sin tur kan få konsekvenser för arkivets roll i samhället, inte minst när det gäller rättssäkerhet och demokrati. Arkivarier och registratorer finns företrädesvis representerade i hanteringen av traditionell arkiv- och dokumenthantering. Resurser liksom kompetens saknas dock när det gäller att arbeta strategiskt med e-förvaltningsfrågor. Omedvetenhet på politisk och verkställighetsnivå om vikten av att arbeta proaktivt med arkivfrågor resulterar i att professionerna exkluderas. Tillsyn kan ses som ett verktyg för att bibehålla och ytterligare stärka arkivariernas professionella jurisdiktion samt att bidra till en ökad medvetenhet i organisationerna.

Fokus för e-förvaltningsutvecklingen har främst legat på verksamhetsnytta med betoning på den interna verksamhetsutvecklingen i organisationen, samt relationen till den enskilde medborgaren. Nya möjligheter att fånga och använda information väcker dock frågor kring informationens legala status i relation till offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen. Att strategiskt verka för offentlighetsinsyn och säkra informationen i ett vidare perspektiv som en del av ett kulturarv tycks inte ha samma dignitet. Arkivmyndigheternas framtida roll är oklar.

Avhandlingen bidrar med ny kunskap om relationen e-förvaltningen och arkiv- och informationshantering ur ett praktiskt, legalt och arkivvetenskapligt perspektiv. Avhandlingen kan därför vara praktiskt användbar på politisk och verkställighetsnivå när det gäller att öka medvetenheten om dessa frågor i offentlig sektor. Avhandlingen bidrar även till teoriutveckling inom den arkivvetenskapliga forskningen genom kombinationen av det teoretiska ramverket med arkivteori och professionsteori.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Mid Sweden University , 2013. , 277 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 175
Keyword [en]
recordkeeping, e-government, recordkeeping awareness, information management, continuum, public archive, archivists, registrars, local government, Sweden
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-20217ISBN: 978-91-87557-21-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-20217DiVA: diva2:664496
Public defence
2013-12-12, Sigma, Mittuniversitetet campus, Härnösand, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
CEDIFGOINFO
Note

The result presented derives from four years of research conducted within the Centre of Digital Information Management (CEDIF) at Mid Sweden University. During this time I have been involved in two research projects; the CEDIF project and the GOINFO project. Without funding, this research had not been possible. Therefore, I would like to thank EU Objective 2, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the County Administrative Board of Västernorrland, Härnösand Municipality, Sundsvall Municipality and Mid Sweden University – who all funded this research.

Available from: 2013-11-15 Created: 2013-11-15 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Taking care of the business - but what about the records? A Swedish study of recordkeeping expertise in business development projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Taking care of the business - but what about the records? A Swedish study of recordkeeping expertise in business development projects
2012 (English)In: Comma, ISSN 1680-1865, Vol. 2010-1, 169-188 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents an explorative study of business development projects and the issues of long-term preservation of information and recordkeeping expertise. The empirical focus is on 17 on-going business development projects in two local government bodies also referred to as municipalities. Business development is connected to e-government, through which authorities continuously improve their core business using information technology (IT) to become more productive and effective. Authorities use records in the conduct of business, to support accountability and for cultural purposes. E-government development is therefore an important driving force behind the development of electronic recordkeeping. Projects related to implementation of recordkeeping systems are, or could be, the first building block of a new strategic approach to embrace records and archive management in public organizations. The overall study sought to find out how aware the municipalities were of the importance of recordkeeping and professional expertise in business development projects, including business systems as well as electronic document and records systems. This article addresses the lack of recordkeeping expertise in strategic positions within local government and what effect that has on recordkeeping and professional competence development. While the context of this article is Sweden, the findings would have relevance in any local government body that is implementing electronic business applications to support e-delivery of services to the wider community.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Council on Archives, 2012
Keyword
Electronic recordkeeping, professional competence, recordkeeping expertise, lont-term preservation of information, business development, e-government, local government, project management
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-14714 (URN)10.3828/comma.2010.1.17 (DOI)
Projects
Centre for Digital Information Management CEDIF
Available from: 2011-11-11 Created: 2011-11-11 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
2. E-government Development and Recordkeeping: A Comparative Study of e-government Best Practice in Swedish Municipalities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>E-government Development and Recordkeeping: A Comparative Study of e-government Best Practice in Swedish Municipalities
2011 (English)In: iRMA Information and Records Management Annual 2010, ISSN 1836-3202, 83-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While information technology plays an important role in the delivery of e-government services there are other issues and processes that are of equal importance to successful e-government programs, namely the appropriate consideration of laws and regulations, sound business processes and change management. Records are also an important element of e-government as they support and demonstrate accountability and transparency and are a source of information for the citizens. In Sweden, the documents produced by public organisations are official records, and Swedish citizens are entitled to free access to them. These official records have been defined as an organisation’s archives.

 

During the last 10 years, there have been many government programs and initiatives in Sweden aimed at achieving world class practices in e-government. Given that records are a part of e-government, this paper addresses whether or not consideration has been given to the role and importance of recordkeeping in developing best practice e-government. The specific context for this study is local government municipalities as the aim of world class, or e-government best practice, includes this level of government in Sweden. In particular, the paper investigates whether or not the municipalities that exhibited best practice in the delivery of e-government services have embraced recordkeeping as important to their strategic development. If so, to what extent have recordkeeping principles and practices been incorporated in the processes? 

 

The paper focuses on the establishment of policies and business process descriptions such as retention and disposal schedules, preservation plans, the use of electronic records and competence issues. The underlying assumption is that municipalities that are good examples of e-government development are aware of the recordkeeping expertise, involve the archivists in working strategically with mapping processes, and have established routines, policies and guidelines for recordkeeping.

 

The study presented in this paper is part of a larger body of research that is still in progress. This research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the importance of recordkeeping competence as a valuable component of best practice in e-government implementation. It also aims to identify recordkeeping challenges related to e-government development and electronic recordkeeping.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
St Helens, Tasmania: RIM Professionals Australasia, 2011
Keyword
E-Government, recordkeeping, local government, municipalities
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-14701 (URN)
Projects
CEDIF Centre for Digital Information Management
Available from: 2011-11-09 Created: 2011-11-09 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
3. Archivists 2.0: redefining the archivist´s profession in the digital age
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Archivists 2.0: redefining the archivist´s profession in the digital age
2012 (English)In: Records Management Journal, ISSN 0956-5698, E-ISSN 1758-7689, Vol. 22, no 2, 98-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - public organizations are investing in e-government development and e-services to improve the interaction and services to the citizens. Archivists need to  act more pro-active to capture and manage records in order to be accessible both in the present and in the long-term. Archivists need to understand the conceptual context and business processes in which the records are created. This study aims to focus on an ongoing process within a specific context, which may have direct, but also future implications for archivists`professional identity. Professional identity is understood as a sense of shared understandings an skills, experiences, common way of perceiving problems and their possible solutions. This study is meant to answer the overall research question and sub questions: What is the status of archivist professionals`positions and practice within public organizations? What organizational effect has the change from paper-based to electronic record keeping had on archivists`professional positions and practice within organizations? How do archivists perceive themselves in their professional roles, i.e. identity? Are there any critical competence issues that need to be solved that are connected to new requirements in working methods related to electronic record keeping? and How do archivists define their skills and working performance?

Design/methodology/approach - The data presented and analyzed in this article are based on a literature review and an empirical study. The literature covers areas related to archivists`professional practice and future role. The empirical study is based on interviews with nine municipality archivists at nine different Swedish municipalities identified by the Swedish Association of Local Government and Regions as "good example" e-government municipalities. All interviews were undertaken during January and March 2011.

Findings - The findings provide information on how archivists define their current and future professional role in relation to the organization and the development of information technology: the status of archivist professionals`positions and practice, for example, within public organizations. It explores the importance of strategic approaches to managing electronic records - from their creation throughout their whole existence, including long-term preservation - and considers necessary changes to the professional image and the skills they need.

Orginiality/value - This article will be of interest to record keeping practitioners working in the shift to e-government in local contexts and also to educators, as there appears to be a shift in the skills and knowledge required by those working in local government.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012
Keyword
Electronic records management, record keeping, public sector organizations, skills, strategic management, information management, records management, archives, Sweden
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-16763 (URN)10.1108/09565691211268162 (DOI)2-s2.0-84865121751 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2012-08-21 Created: 2012-08-21 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
4. Archivists: A Profession in Transition?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Archivists: A Profession in Transition?
2012 (English)In: Professions & Professionalism, ISSN 1893-1049, E-ISSN 1893-1049, Vol. 2, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

E-government development has put pressure on public organizations to work with electronic information. Records from complex e-government services have to be captured and managed in order to be accessible both in the present and in the long term. The data and analysis presented is based on a multiple case study of nine Swedish local governments (municipalities) identified as good ex-amples of best practice of e-government. An analytical model for recordkeeping awareness in three arenas: the legal, the political and the workplace has been created in order to identify how political decisions and new technology impact on professional archivists’ practice and status. The research findings demonstrate a gap between the legal and workplace arenas in both directions caused by lack of recordkeeping awareness primarily within the political arena. Archivists´ profes-sional status seems to be limited, which opens up possibilities for other profes-sional groups to replace them.

National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-15728 (URN)10.7577/pp.v2i1.158 (DOI)
Note

Tidigare titel i sammanläggningsavhandling: Archivists 2.0 Redefining the archivist's profession in the digital age

Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
5. Issues with contact centres: as a new interface between public organisations and citizens
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Issues with contact centres: as a new interface between public organisations and citizens
2013 (English)In: Records Management Journal, ISSN 0956-5698, E-ISSN 1758-7689, Vol. 23, no 2, 90-103 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Various levels of government offer citizens different channels and services using information technology (IT). Within e-government different types of “e-services” are used. The communications are made through a user interface consisting of an e-service application. E-services are used for digital management of routine matters: records are created, received, maintained, used and disposed during the processes of capturing and maintaining evidence about business activities and transactions. Besides e-services, public administrations are establishing new channels organised as contact centres, in order to interact more efficiently with the citizens. The establishment of contact centres could be seen as an expression of an integrated approach to manage and control information flows in order to improve and ensure effective services. The purpose of this paper is to identify recordkeeping challenges related to public organisations’ e-government development and documentation practice. The data presented and analysed are based on a qualitative study of Swedish local governments’ (municipalities) establishment and implementation of contact centres during 2011. The study was designed as a multiple case study, using interviews as a data collection method. The findings demonstrate that the establishment of contact centres has other motives than the traditional need to use information as evidence for decision making: namely internal business process development and cost savings. The information is captured proactively and serves different purposes, which challenges the strong bond between processes, legislation, organisation and accountability. This paper will be of interest to record-keeping practitioners working in the shift to e-government. Information is captured in new ways where the same information serves several interests. This research addresses the importance of including research in the beginning of the life of the record in relation to the influence made by the creator and the social construction of the record as part of archival thinking and research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013
Keyword
Sweden, Local government, e-Government, Digital storage, Documentation, Archiving, Records Management, Cross-Border Organisation, Recordkeeping, Processes, Accountability
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-19635 (URN)10.1108/RMJ-01-2013-0002 (DOI)2-s2.0-84880145840 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-07-24 Created: 2013-07-24 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved
6. 'Shaping a Profession?' A New Professional Context and Changing Status for Registrars in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'Shaping a Profession?' A New Professional Context and Changing Status for Registrars in Sweden
2013 (English)In: Records Management Journal, ISSN 0956-5698, E-ISSN 1758-7689, Vol. 23, no 3, 177-190 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – In order to work more efficiently with internal and external processes, public organisations are working with reorganisation and centralisation of documentation practices as part of a holistic approach to manage and control information flows. The registry function has a long tradition built on legislative requirements concerning registration of official documents in order to fulfil the citizens’ right to access information. The study demonstrates challenges related to recordkeeping legislative awareness within a public organisation and how a changing context may impact on the registrars’ status.

Methodology The data presented and analysed is based on a longitudinal case study of a centralised registry function project undertaken by a Swedish local government body (a municipality). Interviews have been used as the primary data collection method.

Findings The findings identify challenges that result from a lack of recordkeeping skills and recordkeeping legislative awareness that needs to be solved in order to reach a successful implementation. Even though the registry function is identified as strategically important, the registrars have not reached the status ‘expert’. Changing context does not necessarily lead to a change in status. It is a more complex process, which includes attitudes, knowledge and skills.  

Research limitations/implications – The research is limited by being a case study in a single organisation in the Swedish public sector context.

Practical implications The findings could be useful for public organisations that intend to reorganise and centralise documentation practices. Furthermore, the findings contribute to recordkeeping practitioners and also to stakeholders within public organisations.

Originality Registrars as an occupational group in Sweden have not been the focus of any extensive academic research. In view of its new strategic importance the registry function has benefitted from organisational restructuring; research is needed on registrars as a possible future ‘records management profession’, which does not currently exist in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013
Keyword
Continuum, Electronic recordkeeping, Professionalisation, Sweden, Public sector, Recordkeeping legislative awareness, Registrars, Reorganisation project
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-20189 (URN)10.1108/RMJ-02-2013-0006 (DOI)2-s2.0-84886770245 (Scopus ID)
Projects
God Informationsförvaltning GOINFO
Available from: 2013-11-11 Created: 2013-11-11 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved

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