The Electronic Journal of e-Government publishes perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Government

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Journal Article

Singing from the Same Hymnsheet? The Impact of Internal Stakeholders on the Development of e‑Democracy  pp155-162

Ailsa Kolsaker, Liz Lee-Kelley

© Apr 2009 Volume 7 Issue 2, ECEG 2007, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp123 - 208

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Abstract

Early interest in e‑government focused on technological convergence, system interoperability and data sharing. After a slow start, there are signs that provision is improving; 2006 figures show that across Europe 67.8% of basic G2B services and 36.8% of basic G2C public services are fully developed. As provision has improved, e‑government ontologies have broadened, moving beyond information provision and service delivery to embrace facets of governance such as transparency, dialogue, shared decision‑making, collaborative policy‑ formulation and partnership. Active citizenship has long been recognised as a key component of a healthy, functioning democracy and the both the European Commission and individual European nations are keen to exploit the networking opportunities presented by the Web to engage more closely with their citizens. Despite somewhat lofty ambitions, the European Commission itself has recently acknowledged that the Web is not yet operating as an effective facilitator of democratic inputs into policymaking, let alone the more ambitious mandates. The empirical research reported in this paper explores the reasons why. Our paper presents the findings of a study of the extent to which internal stakeholders of a local government authority (Borough Council) in the UK share a sense of purpose in developing an e‑government portal as a vehicle for e‑democracy. It addresses whether lack of progress is related to a mismatch between theorised and actual stakeholder motivations, preferences and behaviours. As well as the officials tasked to bring to fruition the concept of online services and e‑democracy, politicians have a key role to play in promoting e‑government development. Accordingly, two main groups of stakeholders are in focus; elected Councillors and Borough Council employees (or 'officers'). It explores whether the political decision makers and those responsible for online delivery share a common sense of purpose and understanding of the potential value of Web‑enabled participation both for the local authority and citizens. Finally, it evaluates whether a lack of shared vision may be hindering progress towards e‑democracy. The findings expose a number of pertinent and long‑standing issues and challenges. In general there is a lack of shared purpose and motivation and a view that the added value of Web‑enabled participation may be theoretical rather than real. As such, the study is of interest not only to academic colleagues, but also to policy‑makers and local authorities tasked with delivering public services online and engaging citizens more extensively in the processes of democracy.

 

Keywords: e-democracy, e-participation, engagement, UK, local e-government, internal stakeholders

 

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Journal Article

Networks of Communities and Communities of Networks in Online Government  pp115-129

Paul Henman, Rob Ackland, Tim Graham

© Dec 2014 Volume 12 Issue 2, ECEG 2014, Editor: Frank Banister, pp95 - 207

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Abstract

Abstract: Over the past decade the World Wide Web has become a core platform for the electronic operation of government. Yet the shape and nature of government presence on the Web and the online community in which it resides remains poorly understood and relatively under‑theorised. This paper analyses large‑scale web crawling data that map the hyperlink network structure between government websites and the broader Web ecology in the UK. In particular, it reports the communities of websites within a hype rlink network of over 19,000 websites and over 135,000 hyperlinks derived from 75 key UK government seed sites at national, regional (i.e. Scotland and Wales) and local government levels. These website communities were derived by utilising Infomap, a st ate‑of‑the‑art community detection algorithm that operate on the principle that flows of information in complex networks reveals community structure. Identifying and analysing online communities in which government websites reside provides insights in how hyperlink communities are arranged, that is, their emergent organizing principal and the importance of government in these online communities. It is hypothesized that online communities can occur around different policy topics (such as health, educati on or policing), or along institutional or jurisdictional boundaries (such as England, Scotland and Wales). Using this novel approach this paper demonstrates that communities emerge on both axes, and that social media and government portals are some of the most significant communities based on information flows. This research provides foundational knowledge about the role of government websites in the World Wide Web, the emergent online associations, and the changing dynamic of state information in the twenty‑first century. It points to strategies for developing government Web presence in networks that matter.

 

Keywords: Keywords: social network analysis, community detection, hyperlink networks, Infomap, web social science, UK

 

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