Chatbot-mediated public service delivery

A public service value-based framework


  • Tendai Makasi Queensland University of Technology
  • Alireza Nili Queensland University of Technology
  • Kevin Desouza Queensland University of Technology
  • Mary Tate Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand)



public service; public service value; chatbot; artificial intelligence.


Chatbots — computer programs designed to interactively engage with users, replicating humanlike conversational capabilities during service encounters — have been increasingly deployed across a wide range of Internet-based public services. While chatbots provide several advantages (e.g., improved user experience with reduced waiting times to service access), the surge of chatbot use in public service delivery has frequently been plagued with controversy, poor publicity, and legal challenges. One important reason for this is that users of the services, and the wider public, do not always feel that chatbot-mediated services demonstrate the appropriate public service values. We investigate the public service value dimensions required in chatbots designed for use in the public sector. Specifically, we (a) review chatbots and their use in the delivery of public services; and, (b) develop a framework of how public service values can be exemplified by chatbots. Our study provides implications and evaluation criteria for stakeholders in chatbot assisted public services, including researchers, public managers, and citizens.

Author Biographies

Tendai Makasi, Queensland University of Technology

Ph.D. candidate at the School of Information Systems at Queensland University of Technology. His research focuses on aspects of design and evaluation of artificial intelligence-driven technologies within the public sector. He has a background in mathematics and computer science, and holds a Master’s degree in business process management from the Queensland University of Technology.

Alireza Nili, Queensland University of Technology

Lecturer in service science at the School of Information Systems at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia. He specializes in both behavioral information systems (customer decision making and use behavior) and design information systems and uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in his research. His research interests primarily focus on the design and evaluation of chatbots and other Internet-based self-service technologies for delivering public services (e.g., education and health). He has published in journals such as International Journal of Information Management, MIT Sloan Management Review, Communications of the Association for Information Systems, and Electronic Commerce Research, and has presented his research in several international information systems conferences. He has served roles such as Associate Editor at the International Conference on Information Systems and roles such as Track Chair and Program Committee member at the Australasian Conference on Information Systems.

Kevin Desouza, Queensland University of Technology

Professor of Business, Technology and Strategy in the School of Management at the QUT Business School at the Queensland University of Technology. He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He formerly held tenured faculty posts at Arizona State University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Washington and has held visiting appointments at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Università Bocconi, University of the Witwatersrand and University of Ljubljana. Desouza has authored, co-authored, and/or edited nine books. He has published more than 140 articles in journals across a range of disciplines including information systems, information science, public administration, political science, technology management, and urban affairs. Several outlets have featured his work including MIT Sloan Management Review, Stanford Social Innovation Research, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Businessweek, Wired, Governing,, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NPR, PBS, and Computerworld. Desouza has advised, briefed, and/or consulted for major international corporations, non-governmental organizations, and public agencies on strategic management issues ranging from management of information systems, to knowledge management, innovation programs, crisis management, and leadership development. He serves as senior editor for the Journal of Strategic Information Systems. Desouza has received over $US2 million in research funding from both private and government organizations.

Mary Tate, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand)

Associate professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Mary’s research interests focus on digital channels and services using new technologies, especially e-services, e-HRM, welfare services, use of agents/bots, shared services and multi-channel strategy. This is complimented by a strong interest in the foundations of the information systems discipline, theory and research methods. Mary’s work has been recognized with more than $1 million in research grant funding, mainly in Australia. Before joining Victoria University of Wellington, Mary had an extensive background as an IT practitioner, with over 20 years’ experience in service delivery, project management, Web site management, and business analysis. Mary has published numerous conference and journal papers such as papers in MIT Sloan Management Review, European Journal of Information Systems, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Information & Management, and International Journal of Information Management.




How to Cite

Makasi, T., Nili, A., Desouza, K., & Tate, M. (2020). Chatbot-mediated public service delivery: A public service value-based framework. First Monday, 25(12).