ICTs, Citizens and Governance: After the Hype! aims to help researchers and practitioners to understand hypes about ICT and government without becoming cynical. Hypes can be functional in triggering processes of change, but one should be able to distinguish a ‘trigger’ from a realistic set of expectations. This book combines an analysis of the discourse (in terms of hypes) with an analysis of practices (in terms of stable routines and relational patterns). The relation between the discourse and resulting changing is complex, situational and interpretable in multiple ways but certainly merits our attention. To provide a serious analysis of hypes, the editors present a diversity of empirical material relating to technologies and government processes. The technologies vary from network infrastructures to CRM software to web services. Government processes range from service delivery to inspections and policing. The wide variety of technologies observed results in an assessment of realistic effects upon the various government processes. This publication provides an overview of hypes, backlashes and realistic assessments. The editors hope it will lessen the naïveté of readers who have blind faith in technological potential. At the same time, they hope to make serious scientists who discard hypes as being irrelevant more interested in the role these hypes play in the social construction of public administration in an information age.
E-government was supposed to change the interactions between citizens and government. However, an analysis of e-government practices around the world shows that this transformation has not happened. In particular, governments have not significantly improved opportunities for public participation. Moreover, citizens prefer not to use the Internet in their interactions with government. Government contact centers accessible through a single, easy to remember three-digit number have been successful in the U.S. and around the world. They offer citizens a new form of participation and facilitate performance management, knowledge sharing and cross-boundary collaboration in government.
With the advent of the Internet various governments started to experiment with online discussions in which citizens could express their ideas and opinions. The official statistics in the Netherlands on this topic give the impression that the use of this form of Internet participation has been growing ever since, and that more and more governments are attracted to this form of political communication. An empirical investigation of four examples at the local level shows that these online discussions are now functioning with some success. Online discussion forums typically contain numerous contributions by citizens, and they seem to comply with the requirements which have been formulated for open discussions in the public sphere. In the majority of the cases there is evidence of participants who address serious issues, who are sincere and open to others and who discuss on the bases of arguments, while maintaining a reasonable level of respect for other participants. Further analysis, however, shows that these online discussions have little impact on the formal political process and also that the quality of the discussions themselves tends to deteriorate over time. Thus, in the end, the real promises of this democratic innovation seem rather bleak.
Publishing information about school performance on the Internet is currently a ‘hype’ around the world. Many countries publish this information because they believe that this will benefit schools and parents. The assumption is that parents will use this information to assess the performance of schools and consequently choose a school on the basis of this information. Changes in school choice would then form a strong signal to schools to improve performance, with the net result being a better school system. This expectation, however, does not hold true in reality; the information is not used much by parents and, hence, their behavior does not send a strong signal to schools. This does not mean that the publication of school performance data on the Internet has no effect. School administrators do frequently refer to the information in order to know what is happening at other schools. They interpret and analyze this information in the context of competition with other schools, benchmarking themselves and learning from others. Schools do change their behavior in response to the influences of the information being public, albeit not in a deterministic and predictable manner.
During the years of the dot-com hype, the Internet was believed to be the ideal service channel. Based on its cost efficiency and some communicative characteristics it was believed that it would render the other service channels, such as the telephone and front desks, obsolete. Yet instead of replacing the traditional channels, Internet simply became an addition to the existing service repertoire. Nowadays many governmental organizations struggle with the management of their multiple service channels. In many cases the Internet did not lead to a decline in the use of the traditional channels, and therefore hardly any cost reductions were realized. Further, citizens appear to prefer different channels for different situations. In this chapter we present an overview of channel usage by citizens as well as various governmental channel management strategies. We pay special attention to the currently popular perspective on multi-channel management. However, multi-channel management is ambiguous, in the sense that a number of different views on multi-channeling exist. We discuss the various perspectives and argue why governmental agencies should focus on integrated multi-channel management strategies.
Governments around the world have far reaching expectations of service transformation to create citizen-centric government. New Identity Management (IDM) systems are acknowledged as the sine qua non for establishing ‘Transformational government’. Whether the introduction of IDM-enabled service transformation will bring us the desired service state, or in fact a surveillance state, as proponents claim, is an important topic of an emerging public debate in the UK. In this chapter we empirically explore what IDM-enabled service transformation means by focusing on the introduction and use of a multi-functional smart card application in UK local government. Although we conclude that service transformation has happened in this particular case, with government-centric, instead of citizen-centric, government as the outcome, it turns out to be a much less revolutionary experience in practice than expected. Instead, we observe an evolutionary development of the smart card: a gradual, difficult and complex process in taking the smart card scheme forward.
In this chapter it will be evaluated whether incrementalism can account for Geographical Information Systems not reaching its full potential, and the expectations made in the hype, in the field of policy design. This will be done by first elaborating on Geographical Information Systems, what they are, what the expectations at the beginning of the hype were and what the actual use is. Next the rational actor model, bounded rationality and incrementalism will be elaborated on. Two case studies in which Geographical Information Systems were used to enhance policy making will be demonstrated and used to draw final conclusions on which part of the potential of Geographical Information Systems has not been reached and how the expectations during the hype could not meet practice and how this can be explained.
Following a President's mandate in 2000, several inter-organizational e-government initiatives were initiated under the umbrella project denominated e-Mexico. After a public consultation, it was decided that the e-Mexico strategy was going to be organized into four ‘content pillars’: e-economy, e-health, e-government, and e-learning. The e-learning pillar had the objective of fostering the information society in Mexico through the creation of meaningful content in Spanish for continuing learning and education, and the deployment of thousands of Digital Community Centers (DCC) to make the content of the four pillars available to individuals with no access to Internet. Project leaders and managers originally had great expectations and were envisioning substantial economic and social impacts. However, there were multiple challenges throughout the implementation process and, although the progress in public infrastructure deployment was important, the economic and social impacts are modest in comparison to the initial expectations. This chapter explains the effects of the institutional context on the results of this initiative by highlighting the complex interplay between information technologies, organizational structures, and institutional arrangements in government settings. It also offers insights on cross-boundary collaboration and information sharing among government organizations.
F.P. Wagenaar, F.K. Boersma, P. Groenewegen, P. Niemantsverdriet
119 - 134
This chapter is about the introduction and use of the communication tool C2000 and the Integrated Emergency center System (GMS) at the emergency center ‘Hollands Midden’ in the Dutch city of Leiden. ‘Hollands Midden’ is a co-located emergency center that physically houses the police, medical and fire brigades' emergency center personnel at one site. The introduction of these systems at ‘Hollands Midden’ was part of a nationwide introduction of new technologies in emergency centers in the Netherlands. We studied how C2000 and GMS tie the various information elements together in the back office of the emergency center. In addition, we used Giddens' structuration theory to understand how, in the reality of the emergency centers, rules, norms and behavior come into being through the use of the new technologies and how the new technologies are (re)shaped by the actors. What we found is that C2000, once introduced as a promising communication tool, is not (always) used as it was designed to be. And GMS, the system that was supposed to integrate the most important routines of the emergency center, has undergone constant change at ‘Hollands Midden’ as a result of local needs and adaptation. Coping with co-location: Implementing C2000 and GMS in the Dutch police region ‘Hollands Midden’.
As the intermediate level of government in the Netherlands, the position of provinces might be threatened by such effects of ICT as deterritorialization. However, this has not been the case in the Netherlands during the past 15 years. Provinces have a niche role because of their relative specialization on information with a spatial component (geo-information). Provinces did not experience either an ICT hype or a severe backlash. They merely followed the national trend. Yet provinces can still make a stronger effort to adequately deploy the possibilities of electronic government. By making a combination between the geo-based information assets and the standard e-government components, provinces might improve their visibility as e-services deliverers.
Marshall Scott Poole, James Courtney, Tim Lomax, Arnold Vedlitz
150 - 167
The vision of utilizing information technology to make government more effective, efficient and responsive to its citizens has long captivated government officials and the public alike. This chapter describes a project to design a decision support system (DSS) for planning and budgeting infrastructure in a major U.S. city. The system was projected to help with decision making related to numerous aspects of the city's infrastructure (water, sewage, roads, and waste water) and to include input from multiple stakeholders to infrastructure decisions, including relevant government agencies, the public, builders, community leaders, and the city government. The design of the DSS had to address nine challenges which formed significant barriers to realization of the system. In the end a scaled back prototype was created because the challenges proved too difficult to overcome with current technology and resources. We discuss the nine challenges and some avenues for future DSSs that might help to address them.
Theoretical models that represent the growth process of e-government are derived by iterating different phases. The ideal final phase as proposed in these models is a transformed government that offers the provision of services to its citizens in an integrated way. All of the Flemish municipalities have been online for several years now. Developments in the back office appear in practice not to extend further than the first phase of automation. This chapter focuses on the internal and external variables that explain this, such as a lack of capacity, expensive and incompatible applications, dependence on suppliers and the absence of central control. This chapter even goes a step further by stating that a strong automation phase militates against the completion of an integrated provision of services.
Theresa A. Pardo, J. Ramón Gil-García, G. Brian Burke
180 - 197
Sharing information across organizational boundaries is central to efforts to improve government operations and services. However, creating the capability necessary to enable information sharing across the boundaries of organizations is among the most difficult types of information technology projects. New knowledge about information sharing is required; in particular, new understanding about how government, non-governmental and private sector organizations come together to share information is necessary. This chapter draws on the experiences of key actors in three states in the United States as they organized to create new capability to share information as part of their responses to the West Nile virus outbreaks. The cases highlight the gap between expectations and reality, providing opportunity to more fully understand the gaps between expectations (the hype) about ICTs and the reality facing government practitioners who seek to use ICTs to share information. Examining the cases in terms of four contexts of information integration and sharing provides a more specific understanding about the gaps between these expectations and the reality (after the hype). The lessons learned in the context of public health include the central role of information sharing and the implications of resource constraints on data capture and use capability in the context of an outbreak management and surveillance effort. Insight into the interdependence of system design and process support and improvement in the context of public health surveillance was also found to be critical to future planning of public health surveillance systems. This chapter serves to reemphasize to both researchers and practitioners the need to close the gap between expectations and reality; the point is made again through the cases that closing the gap depends on strategies that draw on technology, process, interorganizational, and political perspectives and resources.
When most people talk about e-government, in practice, they are referring to e-public administration. Discussion of how information and communications technology (ICT) might be used in the processes of governing as such has been limited to a few areas such as document flow management and executive support type technologies. A decision by the Irish government in 2003 to disperse government departments throughout the state raised many questions, not least political and administrative, but amongst these was the potential of technology to alleviate the problems the practical problems likely to arise when senior civil servants are geographically dispersed and, by implication, on the ability of technology to facilitate the process of government itself. This paper is a theoretical exploration of the likely contribution, if any, of ICT to supporting the process of policy formulation where those involved in the process are dispersed and asks whether this is yet another technology where the hype fails to take account of practicalities.
The hype around e-government can also be understood in terms of myths. Myths play an important role in policy formulation because they can inspire and convince and thus can stimulate collective action. However, they can also blur our perspective on reality. In such cases people talk about ‘hypes’. In this chapter we look at policy documents regarding the first waves in the establishment of electronic government in Australia, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. We discuss these documents in terms of myths in order to understand the cleft between the ambitions of these documents and daily reality. Four myths are constructed and discussed: the myth of a new and better government which operates as a single unit, the myth of technological progress, the myth of rational information planning and the myth of the intelligent and empowered consumer.
The rise of networks of ICT, the Internet in particular has spurred all kinds of utopian and dystopian views of the revolutionary potential of networks, among others in the context of (E-)government. Presently, a similar hype appears in the perspective of Web 2.0 and e-participation of citizens. The authors advocate a more sober view of network government after the hype and after about twenty years of experience with ICT in government. They describe the current epoch of turning government with a growing importance of network configurations in government. This practice stimulates the projection of a future stage of network government that might have matured after a generation to come. The authors emphasize that three modes of governance are competing and will continue to do so in all epochs of government: hierarchies, markets and networks. Finally, they elaborate ten principles of network management in the context of contemporary hierarchies and markets.
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