The Transformational Effect of Web 2.0 Technologies on Government
Ines A. Mergel
Syracuse University - Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Charles M. Schweik
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Jane E. Fountain
University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Department of Political Science
June 1, 2009
Web 2.0 technologies are now being deployed in government settings. For example, public agencies have used blogs to communicate information on public hearings, wikis and RSS feeds to coordinate work, and wikis to internally share expertise, and intelligence information. The potential for Web 2.0 tools create a public sector paradox. On the one hand, they have the potential to create real transformative opportunities related to key public sector issues of transparency, accountability, communication and collaboration, and to promote deeper levels of civic engagement. On the other hand, information flow within government, across government agencies and between government and the public is often highly restricted through regulations, specific reporting structures and therefore usually delayed through the filter of the bureaucratic constraints. What the emergent application and popularity of Web 2.0 tools show is that there is an apparent need within government to create, distribute and collect information outside the given hierarchical information flow. Clearly, these most recent Internet technologies are creating dramatic changes in the way people at a peer-to-peer production level communicate and collaborate over the Internet. And these have potentially transformative implications for the way public sector organizations do work and communicate with each other and with citizens. But they also create potential difficulties and challenges that have their roots in the institutional contexts these technologies are or will be deployed within. In other words, it is not the technology that hinders us from transformation and innovation – it is the organizational and institutional hurdles that need to be overcome. This paper provides an overview of the transformative organizational, technological and informational challenges ahead.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: Web 2.0, Government 2.0, public sector reform, organizational transformationworking papers series
Date posted: June 1, 2009
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