The future of innovation in e-government
The technological and institutional innovation in public administration, usually go by the name of electronic government. I have selected some innovative approaches that in my opinion can play an important role in the future.
The transformational government approach
Twenty First Century Government is enabled by technology: policy is inspired by it, business change is delivered by it, customer and corporate services depend on it, democratic engagement is exploring it. Technology alone does not transform government, but governments cannot transform to meet the 21st Century citizen expectations without it.
Known as an initiative of the UK government, transformational government (t-government) is an ambitious vision for the delivery of public services in the 21st century, using the power of new technologies to change the way government works. Achieving this vision will require key transformations: citizen and business centred services enabled by IT; shared services culture; government’s professionalism, a systematic focus on innovation.
But, is IT really transforming Government? The answer clearly depends on what is meant by IT: an ever-expanding set of practices as well as tools. It depends still more on what is meant by transformation. Modern governments with serious transformational intent should see technology as a strategic asset and not just a tactical tool.
The information ecology approach
Inspired by Davenports work on information ecology, a new approach of e-government is proposed in the e-government literature. Some upholders of this approach (V. Bekkers and V. Homburg) consider that e-government can be seen as a system, which is marked by strong interrelationships and dependencies between different parts. E-government is not only about the use of ICT, it is also concerned with other aspects of the organisational environment in which ICT is used, such as the strategy of the organisation, the qualities of staff, the dominant culture and the structure of organisation and the distribution of power and power resources within the organisation.
In an information-ecology of e-government, there are different kinds of actors and different kind of tools. Hence, actors see different kinds of opportunities for e-government. This is why it is the local context that determines what kind of technologies and opportunities will be envisioned. This is the main reason that e-government has different features is different places, and even within the same municipality we can see a striking variety of e-government applications. There are not only technological considerations that play an important role in the selection process. We should also consider the interaction between the technological environment of e-government and other environments, like developments in the political, socio-organisational, cultural and economic environment. The relationship between these different environments can be understood in terms of co-evolution.
In conclusion, I believe in the innovative power of these two approaches in tandem: while the first put emphasis on the strategic role of ITC, the second call attention to the interaction of technological environment with other environments. If my short reflection upon the future of innovation in public administration could stimulate further thinking, experimenting and debate, maybe it is possible to innovate.