At the XXII IRSPM annual conference, from 11 – 13 April 2018 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, I am organizing a panel on Big Data Research in Public Administration with dr. Peter M. Kruyen (Radboud University Nijmegen) and prof. dr. Alfred T. Ho.
Practitioners are increasingly using big data analytics to develop smarter policies, improve service provision, and advance internal (business) processes. In a similar vein, big data analytics has the potential to advance the discipline of public administration too. However, in analyzing (very) big data sets, public administration scholars face technical, ethical and methodological challenges that are unique to big data research. These challenges include, but are not limited to, problems with access and safe storage of the data, capacity building constraints to deal with new hardware and programming needs, the need for cross-departmental and cross-sectoral collaboration in data strategies, the need to address different data analysis and visualization needs for different stakeholders, privacy concerns, data quality and self-selection biases, and a need for policymakers, citizens, and key stakeholders to consider the end purposes, underpinning values, and ownership of Big Data.
Our panel aims to bring together public administration scholars that research big data sets—let’s say, n > 100.000—to discuss the potentials and challenges of big-data research methods for public administration. We welcome papers on any topic that explore, use, or discuss:
- Data (eco)systems, such as Hadoop, Spark, and ElasticSearch;
- Data mining techniques (e.g. text-, multimedia- or process mining);
- The Internet of Things (e.g., data collected using mobile phone apps and sensors);
- Cluster techniques for large datasets (e.g. frequent item-set analysis);
- Machine-learning algorithms;
- Privacy and security management of Big Data;
- The limitations of existing data and the implications for policymaking and management;
- Ethical concerns and value questions of Big Data;
- The known and potential “evils” of Big Data in the public and nonprofit sector;
- Implications of Big Data for democratic governance and socio-economic development;
- New governance thinking to facilitate the proper use of Big
The common denominator in our panel will be the research of big datasets in the field of public administration. The panel will provide participants the opportunity to share their experiences and solutions regarding big data research and discuss potential collaborations (e.g., an edited volume). This panel is our first step towards establishing a global network of public administration scholars with a strong interest in big data analytics.
The deadline for submitting abstracts for our panel (17. Big Data Research) at the IRSPM 2018 Conference is 20 October 2017. You can find more information about the conference and submit your abstracts here: https://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/irspm/