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The New Public Leadership Challenge | S. Brookes | Palgrave Macmillan

Mergel et al. This is not, of course, to say that all algorithms require governance or regulatory intervention. In this article I will examine some of the potential harms or risks which have already been identified as challenges for governance, since it is the identification of risks which is the likely catalyst for political or governmental action Beck The relevance of PVT is underpinned by two principal research observations. First, values are at the heart of discussions on algorithms and big data Mittelstadt et al. Ethical dilemmas require resolution if big data is to contribute to public value Mergel et al.

Since algorithms are being trained on big data, the issues that they identify have a bearing on the regulation of algorithms too. Second, as Veale et al. PVT was originally conceived as a way of assessing quality public management Jorgensen and Bozeman As Bryson et al.


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Moore looks at some cases of the creation of public value by regulatory bodies. Alford and O'Flynn argue that PVT is both an empirical and a normative approach, which is capable of being read as paradigm, rhetoric, narrative and performance measure. Some Rhodes and Wanna have argued that PVT is in danger of eliding the different roles of public managers and political leaders and may have less relevance in systems following the Westminster Model where there are clear demarcations. However, there are many examples of regulation in Westminster Model polities where broad principles are established by politicians and the detail is left to the regulators Majone , such as OFCOM in the field of UK communications technology policy Lunt and Livingstone It is also possible for democratic polities to lay down principles for ensuring clarity between public managers and elected political leaders Public Governance Moore acknowledges that there were weaknesses in his original formulation, and demonstrates his awareness of the importance of political leadership in setting goals.

Meanwhile Hartley et al. Bryson et al. The potential application of public value theory PVT to wicked problems has been addressed by Moore himself They also call attention to the way in which specific political discourses speak only to those elements of public value which fit their narrative. I will now consider the findings of the empirical research under the headings of algorithmic risks, wicked problems and the discursive context before turning to a discussion of the relevance of public value theory to governance readiness for algorithmic problems.

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Below I develop six broad examples of algorithmic challenges for public policy. The first issue is what I call algorithmic selection error, as witnessed in the UK cancer screening and police facial recognition algorithms. However, there are also examples of algorithms whose selection mechanisms have been found to operate in discriminatory ways.

Google's voice recognition system has been found to have significant issues in recognizing women's voices Tatman Facial recognition technology was found to be biased to recognition of white people Buolamwini A predictive policing algorithm resulted in racial targeting of black neighbourhoods Lum and Isaac Meanwhile, teachers were unfairly sacked on the basis of algorithms O'Neil , a , b. When the car was on the road, the pollution controlling devices were switched off, meaning that higher levels of air pollutants were emitted than under testing.

Civil and criminal cases were taken forward in the United States Environmental Protection Agency Actions or threats of action have followed in other jurisdictions. Meanwhile, Uber has not been allowed to operate in some cities, and public officials have put in place measures to seek to track its attempts to operate where it has been banned. The third issue is algorithmic manipulation or gaming. Fake news is sustained by advertising revenues derived from online platforms.

More likes, more shares, and more clicks lead to more money for advertisers and platforms Tambini The algorithm behind Facebook's Newsfeed organizes information according to its learned understanding of personal likes and interests, in order to maintain their attention and keep people on its site Luckerson ; Wu Engagement with fake news stories exceeded engagement with real news stories on Facebook in the months preceding the US Presidential election Silverman a , b. The UK's Information Commissioner a is investigating the political use of private data. Tambini et al.

Their codes of practice are insufficient, they do not make their data transparent, and their proprietary algorithms lack independent oversight. The fourth example is what I call algorithmic propaganda. The agencies said they had high confidence in these judgements Office of the Director of National Intelligence The fifth risk is algorithmic brand contamination. It therefore requires information on the things that are of interest to them or likely to trigger buying decisions by them. This has resulted in pressure on internet intermediaries such as Google particularly in relation to its subsidiary, Youtube and Facebook, the removal of material, calls for regulation, and boycotts by advertisers.

Mostrous and Dean ; Solon ; Vizard The sixth area is what we might term algorithmic unknowns. This raises the question of whether machine learning means that algorithms are becoming too complicated for humans to understand or unpick. Machine learning's capacity for producing algorithmic outcomes beyond human understanding has propelled the issue of algorithmic accountability into prominence, leading to calls for regulatory approaches Pasquale ; Mulgan and early engagement with ethical issues Mittelstadt et al. For Head and Alford , concerns about wicked problems are associated with social pluralism i.

They note that decisions on problem definition and solution identification also depend on stakeholder perspectives, drawing on Kingdon and Sabatier —in other words, technical issues are only part of the discussion. They argue for a more contingent approach, therefore, to the identification and classification of problems which can lead to more appropriate interventions.

Although many of the algorithmic issues might initially appear to be wicked problems, the first five all represent issues in which regulatory or other state bodies are taking action, where there is a high degree of legislative and media scrutiny, and where solutions appear to be at hand. While regulators at local, federal, state or international levels may have had to augment their technical understanding, these largely fall into the area of Heifetz's first two types of problem. Addressing complex problems can be as much an issue of problem setting as of problem solving.


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As Schoen , p. They must be constructed from the materials or problematic situations which are puzzling, troubling, and uncertain. Hoppe argues that there is a useful heuristic to be found for policy design in thinking through problems in a series of articulated stages: problem sensing, problem definition and problem solving. This helps us conceive of wicked problems not as static but as evolving and capable of being shaped and managed.

The challenge for public leadership in the age of the algorithm is as much about the framing of problems as their resolution. As Beck noted, the notion of technology as progress has become the hegemonic position. She identifies four phases of development: innovation, commercialization, creative anarchy, and rules see also Kohl But soon there becomes a need for clear ownership rules, coordination of technical standards, and avoidance of monopoly, or regulation where natural monopolies are formed.

He suggests that compromise is often built into the construction of regulatory institutions, whether they are agencies or laws.

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Governance and regulation develop in a contested context. Questions of ethics and value are central to development of governance of the most complex algorithms Walport As Geuijen et al. Cath et al. Alford et al. Creating the authorizing environment means building a public demand for action.

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Knowledge and capabilities for leadership across the whole public service system

Drawn from the results of five seminars this unique book looks at the four areas of: public sector reform; essential features for public leaders; public leadership in action; and the outline of a public leadership approach for the future. It seeks to give public leadership a firm foothold within the study of leadership in general. Palgrave Macmillan. From award-winning research which changes the world to textbooks and study guides which educate and inspire, we publish across the humanities, social sciences and business for academics, students, professionals and librarians worldwide.

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