The information age has become a reality, and has brought with it many implications for public administration. New ICT's offer new opportunities for government and governing, but at the same time they pose challenges in some key areas of public administration, like trust, or the idea of checks and balances.
This book is an examination of the developments and effects of ICT in public administration over the last 10 to 15 years. It represents a re-visiting of the 1998 IOS Press publication ‘Public Administration in an Information Age: A Handbook’. As a point of departure, the authors of this new book have chosen the speed of the succession of theoretical approaches, represented by the 'phase of theories' which has appeared since 1998. This approach, which reflects that of the 1998 handbook, avoids the impression of technological determinism and provides an opportunity to focus on the phases of theory and technological developments.
The book is divided into five sections. The first section examines key issues, and the second focuses on aspects of democracy. In the third section, the focus shifts towards structural conditions; the conditions that public administration has to meet in order to maintain its effectiveness and its legitimacy in the information age. Section four addresses some objects of implementation, like IT-inspired redesign, HRM and the phenomenon of Street Level Bureaucrats. Finally, the last section offers some concluding thoughts.
This book tries to determine what ICT developments in public administration of the last 10–15 years have been. As point of departure we choose the speed of the succession of theoretical approaches represented by the “phases of theories” which appeared since 1998. Three different ‘mini-theories’ are explored: e-Government, i-Government and m-Government. The concepts which form the core and the basic content of the three mini-theories emerge from different competing perspectives.
Trust and trust-building are key themes of public administration, involving trust in the networks of administration, citizens' trust in public authorities and the trustworthiness of the latter. This chapter explores the meaning of trust, thereby focusing on relations between citizens and the state, with a particular focus on information flows and the use of new digital tools (such as web 2.0), in a climate of public scepticism about government. People exchange their personal details for public services, and the state gives information to citizens as part of accountability. Also, ICT developments intensify personal data processing, data matching, and data sharing between different administrative domains. This raises questions of surveillance, privacy protection and public access to information. As some examples in this chapter will show, digital tools may also facilitate service delivery, democracy and the provision of information as tools for accountability and transparency. However, it is questionable whether ICT itself provides trustworthy and sufficient instruments for achieving administrative objectives as well as public benefits and privacy protection.
This chapter starts with an theoretical exploration of the nature of computerized practices of Law application. Then four generations of Law are identified in which the last generation can be understood as a form of legal mass customization. Characteristic for this fourth generation law is interactivity at a large scale. The theoretical discussion of the control of large-scale computerized policy implementation is illustrated by a case study of the use of large-scale information systems in Dutch and European immigration policies. It is argued that modern, western states, need a type of power that forms an addition to the existing Trias Politica. This because the Trias Politica is falling short on its promise of providing a check on the application of law because the fourth generation law offers the legislating power new instruments to limit the power of judges and the administration. As a result, there is no formal power which is concerned with supervising and correcting of the large scale exertion of power. As a way to restore the necessary balance of power a Tetras Politica is suggested.
Digital media have made a strong appeal to people wanting to improve democracy right from the start. Four waves of utopian visions of the last 25 years are described. The concept of digital democracy is defined. Subsequently, six views of both representative and direct democracy are distinguished that favor particular applications of digital media in politics and government. The next paragraph makes an inventory of the claims and achievements of 25 years of attempts to realize digital democracy in the field of information provision, online discussion and decision making. It appears that information provision is the best realized claim. The final part of this chapter is about eParticipation in politics and policy. It discusses both government- and citizen-centric applications. Citizencentric applications appear to be the most successful. Generally speaking, eparticipation has not been successfully incorporated in institutional politics and government.
Colin Smith's 1998 chapter on the British political parties' uptake of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the handbook on public administration in an information age represents at present one of the more important pioneer works in the domain and delineated some of the major research questions. Based on a review of the research stock in the field of political parties and new ICTs, this chapter demonstrates that many of Smith's original thoughts still are valid despite the advent of new social networking technology.
Voter-information websites, in particular online voting indicators, have proliferated in European and other OECD countries. This chapter distinguishes three types of voter-information websites that support voters in prospective and retrospective voting. These types are discussed in the light of a typical case. Some empirical research is discussed on their actual use. On the individual level, voter information websites might have a modest effect on turnout. On the system level, these websites might put the classical liberal model of representation under (further) pressure and enhance a producer-consumer type of linkage.
This paper presents the way direct democracy actually functions, and the contribution of information technology, especially Internet with e-voting and the emergence of social networks, towards making democracy a more concrete reality.
New media offer individual and small groups of citizens powerful resources to mobilize political support in order to influence the policy process. Due to the rapid, massive and unseen nature of this mobilization process policy makers are confronted with strategic surprises, due to a strong focus on existing negotiation and consultation procedures. In order to meet these challenges policy makers have accommodated the existing routines to this new media environment, in a way the internet environment will be monitored more systematically. Moreover, policy-makers have developed counterbalancing media strategies.
Ten or so years ago local governments were failing to use ICTs to support their democratic missions. The mainstreaming of the internet into social and economic life has also led to its take-up by local governments to support different democratic practices. This chapter develops an analytical framework which situates e-democracy initiatives across two dimensions: delegation-participation and transmission-interaction. Using this framework, the chapter draws upon primary research into e-democracy developments in five European countries: Estonia, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It concludes that while e-democracy developments are converging around a few key applications, the ways in which these devices are being used, and their effects on democratic practices, varies considerably between countries. In effect, countries are enacting the same e-democracy devices for very different purposes.
Notwithstanding the expansion in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in and by governments, the impact of technology per se on modes of governance and government structures has been modest. ICT has enabled and facilitated such change, but there is little evidence that the presence or availability of ICT has itself led to any radical change. A key reason for this is technology ambivalence, i.e. technology, while it may not be value free, does not in itself predetermine directions, structures or modes for governance. The question of whether future technology is likely have a more profound effect on the way states are governed is explored.
E-government studies can benefit from three theoretical discourses, when e-government studies want to increase their explanatory power. These discourses relate to innovation theory, the technology debate and the debate on the governance potential of ICT. An answer is given to the question why e-government looks as it looks as well as questions for further research are being addressed.
In the transition from the postindustrial society to the information society the ideal type of the rational legal bureaucracy, itself an artefact of the industrial age, begins to lose its heuristic value. The concept of bureaucracy does not help us to understand how and why modern organizations are structured and governed as they are. Information technology has enabled organizations to redesign (transform) themselves. We analyze some important classical writers on organization and question ourselves what the role of information and communication is in their theories. Then we introduce the ICT's and internet. Next we present modern writers on organizations, who have theories of organizational transformation caused by the use of new ICT's and internet. Then we introduce three case studies and analyze what we recognize empirically, using the theories of the modern writers. In our analysis we find that a new structure is evolving, using certain characteristics of information technology. We end with the conclusion that a new ideal type is needed, that helps us understand the new structure that emerges: horizontal, networked organizations that manage work processes instead of functional activities, using a shared information infrastructure.
This chapter introduces a systematic approach towards large-scale chain communication between autonomous organisations and professionals that cooperate to tackle social problems. This approach combines a specific chain perspective with a dynamic chain concept to better understand the complexities of large-scale social systems - with or without ICT – in a barely-manageable chain context. Many chain projects fail or falter and large-scale systems produce unexpected negative side-effects or even backfire. The example of the Dutch criminal law enforcement chain is used to explain how adversities and negative side effects can disrupt large-scale systems. This example stands as a model for other vital, large-scale systems, for instance identity management and health care. The underlying chain communication systems are important cornerstones of our future information society. Chain research at Utrecht University – now covering more than twenty chains in the Netherlands – has led to some valuable insights and breaking views that imply an ambitious agenda for public administration and information science.
Kim Normann Andersen, Helle Zinner Henriksen, Rony Medaglia
205 - 220
This chapter proposes a reorientation of the e-government maturity models by focusing on the activities rather than on the formal organizational structures and have the citizens as the key stakeholder for future e-government investments. We draw upon a discussion on the limitations of the popular e-government maturity model by Layne and Lee  included in the proposal of the Public Sector Process Rebuilding (PPR) model [2, 3]. The adoption and adaptation of Web 2.0 platforms and location-based services, and the parallel extension of conventional technologies as SMS and web-based self-services, challenge the view that e-government is focused in a formal organizational span of control. We propose a refined operationalization of the PPR maturity model, arguing that the activities and individual workers within the public sector and the citizens using and co-producing the public services will be the vehicle of change.
Informatization in public administration acts primarily on business processes at the operative level of administrative action, and not on governance structures and institutions. To understand the momentous ongoing process of “e-transformation” of the public sector, administrative action has to be investigated at the level of basic ingredients of human and technological agency. Such a focus on the operative level of administrative work allows to fathom the enabling and transformative potential of information technology with a view to improving the design of processes and institutions of a renewed public sector. This approach, developed by German “Verwaltungsinformatik” over a long time, is characterized by taking information, not technology, as focal concept, and by using a socio-technical lens, taking into account the various features which information technology introduces into what already now are inextricable socio-technical activity systems.
Wim J.M. Voermans, Welmoed Fokkema, Remco van Wijk
237 - 251
Over the past decades legislatures have found ways and means to use IT technology to support legislative activity and improve access to legislative documents. Increasingly IT applications used for elements and parts of the legislative process are linked. This paper argues that it is now time we took the next step and redesign the legislative process by tailoring it to the information needs of the 21st century. The rationale and set up of most legislative processes is still the paper-based legislative process [See 1]. Different legislatures have used IT as a lever to redesign their legislative process. The paper gives examples of innovative technology EU-countries have introduced and touches upon IT-assisted architectures for legislative programming (preparation), legislative calendars, IT-assisted drafting systems, impact assessment, internet-based consultation, IT-assisted review, new ways of amending legislation (by MEP's for instance), electronic promulgation, electronic codification and consolidation, electronic access to legislation, IT-based effect monitoring (including evaluation) etc. The paper finishes by giving a framework for a new ‘paper-detached’ legislative procedure.
There is a two-way relationship between HRM and IT. First, IT can affect the HR function itself. Secondly, HRM can also help IT to be used to its full potential. This chapter mainly deals with the first factor by focusing on the diffusion of electronic HRM (e-HRM). We will show that this diffusion has been rather slow, although in the last decade it has become more widespread, especially with respect to the operational use of e-HRM. There is, however, no support for the claim that e-HRM has enabled the HR function to become more strategic. In fact, it is very unlikely that e-HRM as such will ever be able to do so. Research evidence about the spread of e-HRM within the public sector is mixed, but it probably lags slightly behind the private sector in this respect.
In this chapter the question is raised what impact the transitions in public administration as a consequence of ICT developments, and especially of the shift from e-government to m-government, as the most important development of the last ten years, might have on the power position, the functions and the routines of the street level bureaucrats. During the last decades the discretion of many street level bureaucrats is gradually becoming hollowed out. The dominant organizational position of the managers in the technostructure compared to the bureaucrats in the operational core is, amongst others, visible in the application of Knowledge Management on the different dimensions of discretion and in the growing dissatisfaction with the administrative burdens. The roles of the street level bureaucrats as well as of the citizens, and the relationship between State and Society, are becoming step by step redefined.
The impact of ICT on public administration as illustrated in the previous chapters appears to be less than was anticipated by the 1998 book. This does not mean that the cumulative impact is trivial. Over time the effects could be significant. There has been a great deal of change since 1998, but not in areas anticipated. This is a surprise, and this chapter comments on the nature of surprise and the lessons learned about ICT, civil society and public administration that might affect design.
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