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Title: An institutional perspective on information and communication technologies in governance
Author: Panagiotopoulos, Panagiotis J. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 3938
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2011
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are becoming increasing relevant in policy making and governance activities. However, the broad effects of digital governance have not been adequately conceptualised; conflicting assumptions vary from rather optimistic accounts of empowered citizens to even completely dismissing the potential of engagement through technical means. This research attempts to reposition the impact of ICTs on policy making and political communities. Drawing from institutional studies, an integrated perspective is synthesised to guide case investigations in three main directions: (1) the way influences from the institutional environment are understood and balanced locally, (2) the co-evolution of institutional and technological configurations and (3) the dynamic response of institutional actors to the challenge of online engagement. The empirical part focuses on two different contexts (local government authorities and a trade union federation) that cover the holistic objective of this study. The findings inform on the extent to which ICTs are actually merging with existing governance structures. Both studies show that policy making is fundamentally different from other activities at the general intersection of Internet and politics. Citizens form online communities to organise ad hoc around single issue movements. However, this does not necessarily translate into sustainable and meaningful participation in formal politics. Hence, adapting institutional structures emerges as a complicated challenge beyond fitting technical means into existing engagement activities. On this basis, the thesis questions the extent to which policy making mechanisms are able to enact engagement from the grassroots, as for example encouraged by the social media collaboration philosophy. Implications for practice show how the alignment between new tools and the existing norms has the potential to identify paths of least resistance, and then exploit them to accomplish positives changes whose beneficial effects should not be taken for granted.
Supervisor: Elliman, T. ; Fitzgerald, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Information systems in the public sector ; Social media and online communities ; Online engagement ; Local government ; Institutions and organisations