Multi-channel engagement

Since this blog started I have been positing what I called, for want of a better name, a “citizen engagement exchange”. This is not purely an ICT application but a combination of system and culture. The model or conceptual framework has been on display on the site for some time. In addition, having found little or no argument against the model, I have spent some time augmenting this by examining the wider theories both in an ICT context, along with social and political ones.

Having been writing a dissertation that has nearly 600 references I have recently found further  interesting academic papers, that would support the model and I’d like to encourage a wider readership.

The first one of these is “User-centered E-Government in practice: A comprehensive model for measuring user satisfaction” by Pieter Verdegem and Gino Verleye of the University of Gent, Belgium, published in the Government Information Quarterly, Volume 26, pp 487-497. Unfortunately you’ll require access to the journal as it’s not been freely published as far as I can see. On page 490 there is the key discovery that “A conclusion from the research is that E-Government acceptance should be seen as a dynamic learning process whereby people will stick to their habits of using traditional (offline) public services unless they learn of a better electronic alternative that is offering real added value.” Something we perhaps intuitively but that the geeks won’t hear of?

On page 492 come the next lesson from them that “Many of the respondents also stress the importance of a centralized website (one-stop government) (Wimmer, 2002), in which information and services can be ranked according to different life-events. And, in addition to the online environment, an offline contact point (such as a helpdesk by telephone) seems to be of vital importance.”

We then get to some of the important recommendations on p.495 that “The absence of large-scale take-up of E-Government services could – to some extent – be explained by the fact that too much attention is given to technology as well as the governments’  tendencies to start all too often from existing ways of working (in terms of the services that are being provided).” Along with “Only when E-Government services get the same attention in terms of the quality assessment of their service delivery, will users evaluate online services of equal value as their traditional (offline) equivalents. And this is a prerequisite for stimulating not only the potential interest, but also the actual use of E-Government.”

This is  additional support for my model of a “citizen engagement exchange”, although the above paper has only dealt with the web channel and my model proposes that all channels need to be considered in parallel. This extension is something to be considered in the next blog “Multi-channel engagement – Part 2”.

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