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The use of information and communication technologies to support public administrations, governments and decision makers has been recorded for more than 20 years and dubbed e-Government. Moving towards open governance roadmaps worldwide, electronic participation and citizen engagement stand out as a new domain, important both for decision makers and citizens; and over the last decade, there have been a variety of related pilot projects and innovative approaches.

With contributions from leading researchers, Charalabidis and Koussouris provide the latest research findings such as theoretical foundations, principles, methodologies, architectures, technical frameworks, cases and lessons learnt within the domain of open, collaborative governance and online citizen engagement. The book is divided into three sections: Section one, “Public Policy Debate Foundations,” lays the foundations regarding processes and methods for scoping, planning, evaluating and transforming citizen engagement. The second section, “Information and Communication Technologies for Citizen Participation,” details practical approaches to designing and creating collaborative governance infrastructures and citizen participation for businesses and administrations. Lastly, the third section on “Future Research Directions of Open, Collaborative ICT-enabled Governance” provides a constructive critique of the developments in the past and presents prospects regarding future challenges and research directions.

The book is mainly written for academic researchers and graduate students working in the computer, social, political and management sciences. Its audience includes researchers and practitioners in e-Governance, public administration officials, policy and decision makers at the local, national and international level engaged in the design and creation of policies and services, and ICT professionals engaged in e-Governance and policy modelling projects and solutions.



Public Policy Debate Foundations: Processes and Methods for Scoping, Planning, Evaluating and Transforming Citizen Engagement


1. Democratic Legitimacy and Recruitment Strategies in eParticipation Projects

This chapter approaches the complex relationship between eParticipation processes and democratic legitimacy by analysing several strategies for recruiting participants, a specific issue in the design of eParticipation processes with far-reaching implications. The central argument of this chapter is that the possibility of strengthening systems of representative democracy through eParticipation initiatives depends on the strategies used to recruit participants into those initiatives. First, a review of the theoretical discussion around strategies for the recruitment of participants and their normative implications for democratic legitimacy is presented. Thereafter, a broad empirical overview of eParticipation projects is carried out, surveying the diffusion of different recruitment strategies in local eConsultations. This is followed by a case study of the European Citizens’ Consultations (ECC). In the chapter’s concluding discussion, lessons are drawn from the ECC case, and a set of questions are formulated that should be considered in the design of eParticipation projects related to the normative implications of different recruitment strategies.

Martin Karlsson

2. Collaboration for Open Innovation Processes in Public Administrations

In Government 2.0, public value no longer needs to be provided by government alone but can be provided by any combination of public agencies, the private sector, civil society organizations or citizens. The ubiquitous presence of ICT, citizens’ digital literacy, and their potential willingness to participate online can efficiently enable collaborative production. Models for the inclusion of external stakeholders in public value production can increase the degree of public sector innovation and improve the outcomes of such processes. Governments can use the most valuable resource they have, the citizens, by establishing opportunities for civil society and businesses to engage in an open government.

Noella Edelmann, Johann Höchtl, Michael Sachs

3. An Integrated Methodology for the Evaluation of ePetitions

An ePetition is a petition that gathers support electronically. The review of existing ePetition cases reveals that the real impact of current ePetition practices is difficult to be addressed and evaluated. This difficulty is also due to the lack/incompleteness of specific and unified methodologies for the evaluation of ePetition results. In this framework, the authors in this chapter are firstly presenting an overview of existing methodologies for the evaluation and assessment of ePetition approaches. Then, they propose a unified and complete methodology for the in-depth evaluation of an ePetition approach. The last part of the chapter is devoted to the presentation of the main results from the real-life application of this evaluation methodology, in the context of an FP7-funded project.

Kostas Ergazakis, Dimitrios Askounis, Panagiotis Kokkinakos, Anastasios Tsitsanis

4. Assessing a Measurement Model for Digital Political Participation: A Multidisciplinary Point of View

The events of the past year have drawn the attention of public opinion to the importance that the Internet can have for political and social change. Both the so-called Arab Spring and the Icelandic and Spanish new social movements were born and developed on the Internet. These movements are raising questions and arousing interest in the new type of political participation that is emerging through this tool: digital political participation (DPP). Our starting point is that we do not consider DPP as part of the broader concept of traditional political participation, but we consider it as a form of participation in itself. So, it is necessary to create a tool that would allow its measurement in order to understand what the limits and potential of this new phenomenon are. Thus, the objective of this study is to build a statistical tool to measure DPP together with the constructs that influence its implementation.

Stefano De Marco, Mirko Antino, José Manuel Robles Morales

5. Online Engagement from the Grassroots: Reflecting on over a Decade of ePetitioning Experience in Europe and the UK

Extensive debate on Internet and formal politics has concentrated on whether authorities should focus their efforts on high-volume activities such as petitioning or crowdsourcing. Those engagement tools seem to be consistent with the ambition of many networked citizens to influence policymaking through ad hoc and mostly single-issue movements. Therefore, certain interesting questions emerge: can authorities organise their engagement activities to respond and act upon this call? Can citizens indeed influence policymaking in a few clicks? This chapter draws together material from different uses of ePetitioning tools in Europe, mainly focusing on the integrated UK experience at national and local level. The analysis suggests that those initiatives can provide valuable feedback to authorities and be effectively complemented by other forms of deeper engagement. Yet, political organisations should pay close attention on how the public views such exercises and be prepared to support participants in different ways and on a regular basis.

Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos, Tony Elliman

6. Evaluating eParticipation Projects and Lessons Learnt

Local, regional and national governments of many countries invest significant amounts of money in various types of eParticipation projects, aiming to engage citizens in public policymaking and decision-making exploiting the information and communication technologies (ICT). However, they do not pay sufficient attention to evaluating these efforts, while a widely accepted methodology for this purpose is missing. This chapter initially reviews the frameworks and methodologies that have been developed from previous research for the evaluation of information systems (IS), traditional offline public participation and also eParticipation. Then, based on them, a synthetic methodology has been developed for evaluating eParticipation projects. Furthermore, an alternative simpler methodology is presented for the same purpose, in order to be used in cases of limited resources and big time pressure. Also, a methodology for conducting more focused evaluations of significant innovative components, such as the ‘structured eForum’ that enables a more structured electronic discussion on a public policy or decision, is presented. Finally, the conclusions and lessons learnt are outlined.

Euripidis Loukis

Information and Communication Technologies for Citizens' Participation


7. Knowing the Law as a Prerequisite to Participative eGovernment: The Role of Semantic Technologies

Active participation of EU citizens to their national and local decision-making process can only occur once they have a full knowledge of the transnational and national regulatory and institutional context. Despite their actual right to access legal documents, several barriers still prevent citizen against getting a true understanding of the effects brought about by normative changes and regulatory innovations. Linguistic and conceptual complexity of the legal domain is combined with technical barriers, and the availability of satisfactory, complete and reliable information services for legal experts and non-experts has still to come. This chapter focuses on the role ICT and, more specifically, semantic technologies play in providing powerful tools for bridging the gap between the two layers, that is, the formal and the conceptual aspects of legal knowledge, by guaranteeing not only formal access to the sources of the law but substantial knowledge of its content as well.

Daniela Tiscornia, Meritxell Fernández-Barrera

8. Regional Participation Model to Engage Citizens in Distant Decision-Making

eParticipation is seen as particularly important for participation of citizens in distant decision-making, i.e. where the decision-making body is at quite a distance to the constituency such as in European legislation on consumer protection. In addition to general challenges regional and local projects in eParticipation have to cope with, further difficulties have to be overcome in distant decision-making such as motivating citizen participation. This chapter investigates such challenges in a systematic way. It proposes a regional participation model to engage citizens in distant decision-making. As such, a model itself cannot automatically ensure the success of an eParticipation project. A framework for a regional model for eParticipation is proposed consisting of a procedure to implement a regional model for eParticipation, extensive marketing methods, an eParticipation platform and a serious game. Based on this framework, experiences from VoicE and VoiceS projects are presented, and recommendations are given.

Sabrina Scherer, Maria A. Wimmer, Johanna Schepers

9. Visualisation of Online Discussion Forums

This chapter presents a novel visual approach to data interpretation in online discussion forums. Due to information overload in these forums, it is very difficult to get the right information at the right time, especially when the information is summary in its nature and spread across a big number of posts. The authors propose a tool that enables any visitor of a discussion forum to easily visualise its contents and thus gain an overview of its structure and discussion trends. The tool, which has been deployed on three politically themed pilot forums, also enables the user to receive proactive notifications about interesting topics being posted on the forum. The work presented was performed in the scope of EU co-funded project VIDI and contributed visibly to a better participation of citizens in (local) political life.

Mitja Trampuš, Sinan Sen, Nenad Stojanović, Marko Grobelnik

10. Distributed Discussion: An Integrated eParticipation Model for Engaging Young People in Technology Policy

This chapter describes an eParticipation model, designed to be especially appropriate to young people and complex topics: distributed discussion. It draws on the experiences of the HUWY project, which piloted a distributed discussion model, in four countries, to assess how this supported young people’s engagement. The pilot revealed that young people valued structured and well-supported discussions, particularly well-facilitated offline discussions. Integrating online and offline, national and international elements are the advantages and challenges of this model. This chapter aims to give an overview of the theoretical basis, process and impacts of the model and to provide recommendations for future development and use.

Ella Taylor-Smith, Simone Kimpeler, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

11. Open Collaboration in Policy Development: Concept and Architecture to Integrate Scenario Development and Formal Policy Modelling

Along the demands for good governance and open government, policymakers need concise, reliable and up-to-date information to respond to society’s problems and affairs in an efficient and effective way. Likewise, stakeholders affected by a particular policy call for transparency, accountability and trustworthiness in political decision-making. Along the evolution of information society that leads to increasing digitisation of information and knowledge artefacts and public services, citizens more and more request direct involvement in policymaking. In this chapter, we introduce a comprehensive and innovative approach to collaborative policy development. The approach integrates collaborative scenario building and formal policy modelling via an integrated ICT toolbox. Stakeholders are collaboratively involved in the scenario development as well as in the evaluation of simulation outcomes. To bridge the gap between narrative texts of stakeholder-generated scenarios (evidenced through background documents of the policy to be discussed) and formal policy models (generating model-based scenarios), the approach introduces conceptual modelling, which enables the different stakeholders to better understand the policy context and to support semi-automatic transformation of text statements into formal statements and agent descriptions. A consequence of the agent-based modelling approach used is that the justifications for expectations of the stakeholders are made precise, explicit and linked to evidence, and this process provides for the monitoring of ongoing policy implementation.

Maria A. Wimmer, Karol Furdik, Melanie Bicking, Marian Mach, Tomas Sabol, Peter Butka

Future Research Directions of Open, Collaborative ICT-enabled Governance


12. ICT as the Facilitator of Postmodern and Empowered Forms of Citizenship: Myth or Reality?

This chapter critically examines the pervasive notion that the use of new information communication technologies (ICTs), which are perceived as inherently democratic, will automatically empower citizens in their relations with the state and that the majority of socio-political issues can be addressed solely through citizens’ technological empowerment. In the first part, we focus on the general characteristics of this universal solution frame. In the following part, the conditions of possibility of the frame are identified as neoliberal and technophilic rationality and are interrogated. The central aim of the third part is to critically evaluate the role of ICTs in empowering citizens, generating socio-political change and determining social progress through examples of recent events in North Africa and the Middle East. In conclusion, critical steps for reconceptualising the relationship between use of ICTs and empowered forms of citizenship are elaborated, and a set of factors that could be taken into consideration in future policy developments is discussed.

Tit Neubauer, Tina Vuga, Blaž Ilc

13. A Critical Analysis of EU-Funded eParticipation

This chapter reflects, from a holistic perspective, on the challenges surrounding the development of eParticipation in Europe, with special focus on EU programmes. To this end, first, we assess the field’s practical and theoretical achievements and limitations, and corroborate that the progress of eParticipation in the last decade has not been completely satisfactory in spite of the significant share of resources invested to support it. Second, we attempt to diagnose and shed light on some of the field’s systemic problems and challenges which are responsible for this lack of development. The domain’s maladies are grouped under tree main categories: (1) lack of a proper understanding and articulation with regard to the ‘participation’ field, (2) eParticipation community’s ‘founding biases’ around eGovernment and academy, and (3) inadequacy of traditional innovation support programmes to incentivize innovation in the field. In the context of the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’, the final section provides several recommendations that should contribute to enhance the effectiveness of future European eParticipation actions.

Pedro Prieto-Martín, Luis de Marcos, Jose Javier Martínez

14. ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling: Visionary Directions and Research Paths

The role of government in the society is undergoing continuous change, accelerated in the recent years due to the widespread adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The legitimacy of governments’ actions is increasingly put into question, and it is recognised that the emergence of new and complex problems requires governments to collaborate with non-governmental actors in addressing societal challenges, for example, related to climate change or the financial crisis, moving into a new era in which the provision of public services is oriented towards the creation of public value and user empowerment. In recent years, we have assisted to a flourishing of user-driven ICT tools addressing public service delivery and administrative processes. But yet, this domain is still very much unchartered, led by bottom-up initiatives, with little consolidation, with mostly small-scale experiments, at the margin of government’s initiatives. In this context, consensus is starting to build around the potential that collaborative technologies have in the field of governance and policy modelling. However, in order for effective citizen empowerment and participation to become mainstream at a greater scale, several challenges will have to be faced, which will require new tools to be developed. The major research questions that come to the forefront concern which new ICT-enabled governance models and methods of monitoring, interaction, collaboration for policymaking and enforcement are emerging and which are the appropriate policy-modelling mechanisms that will effectively re-engage citizens in the decision-making process.

Yannis Charalabidis, Sotiris Koussouris, Fenareti Lampathaki, Gianluca Misuraca


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