A new model for transparency and e-participation: Who transforms what policy into whose practice?

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Abstract

The analysis of transparency depends on the objectives and the research discipline in which the evaluation is undertaken. This study follows two main lines: to provide a framework for transparency evaluation, and to develop guidelines for the design and management of citizen-orientated Internet websites and e-participation initiatives. This is done in three stages: defining the research discipline, defining the concepts and terms, and defining measures for evaluation. Finally, the suggested framework is examined in the context of real estate planning in Israel, where the use of online systems - designed and implemented independently by a few local authorities - seems to bypass a controversial national planning reform. A close acquaintance with governance processes has raised the inevitable question, perhaps typical to many systems in the public sector: who transforms what policy into whose practice? Scales for measuring and evaluating the progress of Internet websites are usually based on their evolution, from brochure-like pages to interactive services (Ein-Dor and Segev, 1993). The number of contact channels may reflect openness levels in relatively simple Internet websites; while Web 2.0 applications, which express a higher level of Internet evolution, are more complicated for evaluation. Moreover, the spectrum of e-participation initiatives requires also a user-view framework of analysis. The knowledge hierarchy, which is widely used in Information Systems (IS) research, may provide the desired user-view framework. The knowledge hierarchy can support the selection of targeted stakeholders in accordance with their skills and abilities. This can be done by matching each type of e-participatory activity to the appropriate level in the knowledge hierarchy. For example: matching processed inputs on a conceptual level, termed knowledge, with the wide community; matching specific information with engaged citizens that possess local knowledge in their areas of interest; and matching data with semi-professional local representatives that produce value out of data much as experts do. This model should help understand conflicts such as the ban of mosque minarets in a country with Muslim minority, or the often heard accusation of "too much democracy," the disfavor of open debates and other expressions of imbalance in the new era of e-participation. Governments and communities may benefit from the proposed user-view framework while designing and implementing new e-participation initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Sector Reform Using Information Technologies
Subtitle of host publicationTransforming Policy into Practice
PublisherIGI Global
Pages191-211
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781609608392
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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