Barriers and Drivers of Digital Transformation in Public Organizations

Results from a Survey in the Netherlands

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The introduction of ICT is requiring public administrations to transform their organizations to take advantage of these technologies. Despite its significance, no studies so far collected quantitative evidence on (i) how and the extent to which this transformation is currently underway and (ii) which drivers and barriers are hindering and leading this transformation process. This article aims at filling this gap by surveying Dutch public administrations. In total, 46 responses from different organizations were collected that provide insight into their transformation efforts. Findings show that digital transformation efforts had only a partial impact at the organizational level: processes, employees’ duties and tasks and information systems are going through a deep transformation, whereas the social system seems to be less affected by the transformation process. Moreover, the analysis results suggest that external drivers are the main motivation for organizational transformation, and that expected internal barriers do not de facto result in digital transformation. These counterintuitive results suggest that in public administrations only exogenous input result in a sense of urgency and that the perceived barriers to transformation can be overcome if there is sufficient external pressure.