Networks for Citizen Consultation and Citizen Sourcing of Expertise: Exploring Innovations in the Public Sector
Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2012
Date Written: April 4, 2012
This study aims to explore how public websites facilitate the creation of networks for citizen consultation. Evidence-based analysis is applied to European public-sector websites to determine the degree to which they adopt digital mechanisms and strategies to facilitate citizen participation and collaboration. This study analyses outstanding European public-sector websites as categorised by the European Commission at the 4th European eGovernment Awards (EeGA) 2009. These finalists, which were selected by independent judges, are taken as a representative sample of the range of eGovernment projects in Europe. Although other eGovernment projects with exemplary features certainly exist, the unbiased nature of this list, which consists of 52 finalists from 31 countries, provides an objective criterion for inclusion, thus making our sample analytically stronger than an opportunistic sample. The selected websites are analysed and classified based on the taxonomy of citizen participation elaborated by Dutton, who defines three levels of digital citizen engagement: (1) sharing, (2) contributing, and (3) co-creating knowledge. These constitute a matrix describing different levels of maturity in an e-democracy. The results of the analysis and the application of this methodology provide an overview of the strategies and policies adopted by European governments to promote and support e-democracy. Interestingly, the results also show that the vast majority of European Union (EU) public websites adopt strategies to promote only the earliest stages of digital citizen engagement, primarily at level 1. This study also reveals how the public sector utilises various tools, social networks and digital resources to create virtual networks of citizen consultation and citizen sourcing of expertise. A valuable result of this study is the taxonomy of digital citizen engagement and its operationalisation, which may be useful for future research. Finally, this work identifies practices, strategies and mechanisms for fostering e-democracy in the EU.
Keywords: citizenship, e-competencies, e-government, technology, information literacy, media, literacy, ICT, research, e-skills, UK, EU, government, innovation, tools, competency, media-literacy, Europe, Jobs,EU, universities, democracy, social networks
JEL Classification: D83, J31, O31, O32, O33, O38
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