The modernization of public administration is a recurring theme on the political and public agenda in many countries. Modernization presupposes innovation. However, is an innovative public administration a contradiction in terminis? If we look at the practice of public administration, and evaluate – from an evolutionary perspective – how public administration has transformed itself during the last 40 years, we actually see a variety of radical and incremental changes. Hence, innovation does take place. This book clearly demonstrates how public administration organizations try to adapt to changing circumstances in their environment in order to secure their legitimacy. At the same time we see that public administration tries to respond and anticipate to new technological developments as well as to make use of them. In many countries e-government has become the symbol of the way in which ICT has penetrated in the nerves of ministries, local and regional government and all kinds of agencies. In this publication, a number of case studies have been presented in which different kind of ICT-driven innovations have been described and analyzed.
The modernization of public administration is a recurring theme on the political and public agenda in many countries. Modernization presupposes innovation. However, is an innovative public administration a contradiction in terminis? According Aloïs Schumpeter, the founding father of innovation theory, the lack of competition in the public sector, the short term orientation of politicians and the bureaucratic nature of public organizations, focusing on creating stability, predictability, legal security and legal equality, frustrates the ability of public sector organizations to look for new ideas, new practices, new services and new organizations. However, if we look at the practice of public administration, and evaluate – from an evolutionary perspective – how public administration has transformed itself during the last 40 years, we actually see a variety of radical and incremental changes. Hence, innovation does take place. This book clearly demonstrates how public administration organizations try to adapt to changing circumstances in their environment in order to secure their legitimacy.
At the same time we see that public administration tries to respond and anticipate to new technological developments as well as to make use of them. In many countries e-government has become the symbol of the way in which ICT has penetrated in the nerves of ministries, local and regional government and all kinds of agencies. More-over, a seamless web of information exchange, transaction and communication relations has been spun within and between all kinds of public, private and semi-public organizations which are involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy programs, the execution of public laws and regulations and the evolving delivery of public services. ICT can be seen as tool, which facilitates the implementation of all kinds of public innovations on the one hand; on the other hand the possibilities ICT offers can also be seen as a perspective of change. They can help us frame new possibilities or re-frame existing practices, thereby stimulating a process of ‘creative destruction’.
However, how should we assess the added value of ICT to support public innovations? In this book a number of case studies have been presented in which different kind of ICT-driven innovations have been described and analyzed. All the chapters have been subjected to a review procedure in order to guarantee the quality of the contributions. In the selection of the chapters we have differentiated between several kinds of innovations in which ICT has been used in a substantial way. A distinction has been made between technological, service, organizational, conceptual and institutional innovations. Furthermore we have tried to ensure an international comparative overview of innovations. Case studies have been included from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States of America, Denmark, Germany, Finland and Estonia.
We have tried to assess these innovations in two ways. From an instrumental perspective we have looked at the way in which ICT has supported the achievement of different innovations. What factors have contributed to the way in which the innovation goals have been accomplished? From an institutional perspective we have looked at the question, if the use of ICT has contributed to qualitative changes in public administration? Did ICT reinforce existing practices, or did it substantially generate new practices, new relationships and new concepts? Moreover, we have included some chapters that address these questions from a more reflective point of view.
We would like to thank Vivian Carter, Rebecca Moody and the translation service of Capgemini for their help with the editing of the chapters.
Rotterdam/Tilburg, April 2005
Victor Bekkers, Hein van Duivenboden, Marcel Thaens
Victor Bekkers, Hein van Duivenboden, Marcel Thaens
3 - 21
This chapter aim to explore the relationship between ICT and public innovation by looking by looking at a number of theoretical notions and empirical findings. A number of reasons is presented why the modernization of government is a returning issue and reflect on the nature of this modernization process. A necessary condition for modernization is innovation, but how innovative is the public sector. Some arguments for and against are given. We also distinguish several types of innovation. ICT innovations are very often used as incentives to modernize public administration. In order to understand the nature of these ICT driven innovations, it is important to question ICT itself as well as its added value.
This chapter explores what kinds of shifts of governance are being proposed in several European modernization programs and what the alleged role of ICT is here. It is argued that the innovative potential of ICT, defined as a neutral tool, is primarily used in relation process innovation, stressing the importance of efficiency and service delivery, thereby facilitating a consumer democracy which is based on a redesign of the machinery of government. However, one can question if the broader innovation potential of the governance concept and the role of ICT, has been fully acknowledged.
Process innovation promises radical improvements in service delivery processes. It is argued that, starting from a clean slate, processes should be redesigned, using information and communication technologies as an enabler for efficient and effective service delivery processes. In this chapter the author examines the potential and critical success factors of process innovation in the public sector. Two Belgian cases are studied: the Crossroads Bank for Social Security and the Crossroads Bank for Companies. In both cases ICT was used to redesign processes. Yet, both cases show that a pure rational process innovation is not possible. The institutional embeddedness of the processes has to be taken into account. In these processes, several actors are involved that all have different goals and interests at stake. The success of a process innovation project depends on the attention that is given to goals and interests, communication and trust.
Based on proven practices in Europe, this chapter gives an insight into the lessons that can be learned from public service innovation with ICT. The chapter describes four cases in which both procedural and organizational improvements have been achieved by means of ICT, proving that ICT supports efficiency and customer satisfaction objectives. Institutional changes have been found to focus on (i) the distribution and ownership of information and (ii) public and public-to-private cooperation. Although the latter may be difficult to effect in practice, customer demands and technical opportunities are important factors determining the success of such cooperation.
Marcel Thaens, Victor Bekkers, Hein van Duivenboden
83 - 99
In this chapter, flexibility is presented as an aspect of process innovation in relation to the computerization of policy chains and networks. We present a theoretical framework and two cases from the Netherlands. Based on analysis we conclude that both the cases show that technology itself is not a bottleneck for flexibility. The development and use of standards make it possible to base the design of an architecture on a minimum but robust set of agreements. One case shows that such a design increases the adaptive power of architectures. Another conclusion from the case studies is that a so-called high road or low road approach to information architectures is decisive for the level of its flexibility. In our case studies, the choice of the low or the high road was determined not only by aspects regarding information management or technological aspects, but mainly by the political-administrative setting and by the judicial context.
In this chapter we have looked at the potential of GIS for the policy formulation process in public administration as well at the factors that influence the actual use of GIS. The potential is related to get a better insight in the complexity of wicked policy problems and the possibility to visualize effects. Through a literature scan we have listed a number of relevant instrumental and institutional factors that account for the successful use of GIS. Furthermore we have studied the use of GIS in a regional development practice. The possible contribution of GIS to institutional renewal is that it may facilitate a process of reversed mixed scanning.
This chapter presents a case study of the use of interactive digital television (iDTV) to deliver electronic public services in the UK. It reviews a number of innovative iDTV initiatives which have sought to test the feasibility of using iDTV technology to deliver ‘interactive’ electronic services directly to citizens and service users homes, thereby potentially making public services more accessible, universally available and cheaper to administer. The introduction of these new service delivery arrangements, based on the capabilities of new information and communication technologies, present a challenge to established organizational structures and ways of working. In particular, the emergence of iDTV as an electronic service delivery channel is forging a new citizens-state relationship, based around the transformed role of the television, a medium typically associated with entertainment. In this chapter the authors argue, that although the iDTV initiatives demonstrate that it is possible do deliver electronic services via iDTV, and although there is evidence that citizens are interested in using IDTV to access public services, the current provision of IDTV is not yet sufficiently advanced to support widespread provision and use. Despite this, the rapid take-up of digital television and the emergence of iDTV services suggests that iDTV will be an important complementary medium for the future delivery of electronic government and public services.
René Wagenaar, René Matthijsse, Hans de Bruijn, Haiko van der Voort, Ruben van Wendel de Joode
141 - 158
Governments are seeking ways to improve the service provisioning to their citizens by using the Internet, whilst at the same time reducing the operational costs in their back-office and IT. The implementation of shared service centers (SSCs) is claimed to be a valuable organizational redesign that will lead to less redundancy in operations, less staff and more concentrated knowledge accumulation. However, the decision-making and subsequent implementation of such SSCs is a complex task full of risks of failure. This is partly due to diverse expectations and interests among the actors involved. Triggered by the failure of a major shared service center for Human Resource Management within the Dutch central government (P-Direct), this chapter discusses in depth the risks involved and the dilemmas faced in the design and implementation of SSCs. There are various scenarios which can be thought of for decision-making on and implementation of SSCs. They lie in the spectrum from central top-down steering to bottom-up emergent process growth. The authors propose a framework for strategic choice that may be of guidance in the search for a successful implementation strategy, and that may help future empirical research in developing ‘best practices’.
In some other chapters of this book we have seen ICTs acting as innovations in the public sphere themselves. Yet, the introduction of ICTs can also have indirect effects. ICTs and informatization can act as catalysts spurring all kinds of innovations. In this chapter we show how ICTs and informatization have acted as catalysts to organizational innovation in the Dutch police system. Informatization challenged the dominant vertical logic of the Dutch police system through the use of a novel, horizontally oriented, form of collaboration between police forces. With it an alternative to hierarchical coordination and control has been introduced which has led to recent changes in the 1993 Police Act that provide a legal basis for interregional collaboration between police forces for the first time in Dutch history.
This chapter investigates environmental partnerships in the city of Cleveland (USA), focusing on how they affect the problem-solving capacity of local communities, in terms of access to environmental information. The case study shows how the innovation agenda of the regulatory agencies, the empowerment agenda of the environmental advocacy community and the aspirations of community-based organizations became linked two each other. Key factor in the success of the partnerships has been the broker roles played by non-governmental organizations. At the national level, NGOs have an important role as ‘information-intermediaries’ in the nationwide infrastructure for environmental information. In Cleveland, they fulfilled initiating and facilitating roles as ‘interaction intermediaries’ in the emergent partnerships.
This chapter sets out the UK Government's proposal for an electronic mixed economy that will engage public, private, and voluntary organizations as “intermediaries” in the delivery of public services. Using a case study of the Citizens Advice service, a leading UK voluntary organization, the conceptual foundations, institutional and technological arrangements underpinning the electronic mixed economy are evaluated. The chapter concludes by bringing forward recommendations designed to ease and bring about more effective implementation.
Governments are introducing, managing and using digitized personal identification and authentication systems in their service relationships with citizens in addition to, and increasingly in replacement of, traditional forms of personal identification and authentication. An important question is to what extent these developments are causing innovation in the sense of a renewal of traditional institutions in the government domain. By presenting public debate with regard to the recently proposed UK National Identity Cards initiative we will show that a public administration perspective is needed to be able to detect more fundamental forms of innovation in government.
The development of e-government stagnates in many countries. In this chapter we explore three different explanations for the difficulties of this type of innovation in the public sector. The first explanation concerns technological barriers and we conclude that these barriers are present but fast technological developments can be expected do deal with it. The second explanation concerns organizational barriers but these barriers cannot explain the overall stagnation of e-government innovations. The third explanation relates to institutional barriers and we conclude that these barriers may be difficult to overcome. We conclude that e-government should be seen as an institutional innovation. Following this conclusion we stress that institutional innovation may have undesired effects: technology may change the meaning of government and hollow out fundamental values. Therefore, we call for a public debate on the institutional innovation of government.
Hein van Duivenboden, Victor Bekkers, Marcel Thaens
230 - 242
What conclusions can be drawn from a comparison of the previous chapters regarding the nature of ICT-driven public innovation? After a brief description of the main findings, we conclude that enhancing efficiency is the most important goal or value which lay behind many public innovation projects. We conclude that the public innovation agenda has a rather mechanistic character, which also influences the use and appreciation of ICT. A managerial , and thus internal, perspective prevails. This one-sidedness can be diminished, if ICT-driven public innovations focus on the concrete manifestations of societal problems. An alternative public innovation strategy is elaborated.
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