Multi-channel engagement – part 3

In the time-honoured tradition of the media industry, I’m rolling this topic out a for a further episode!  When one is writing a dissertation you are expected to keep up to speed with the academic literature on the topic, so having quoted papers from 2006 and 2007 in the previous post I’ve now uncovered a more recent one from Sweden following the similar line of inquiry.

From a special edition, vol 2009:2,  of the International Journal of Public Information Systems we have “Public e-Services from the Citizens’ Perspective – Adopting a Market Orientation” by Åsa Wallström, Anne Engström, Esmail Salehi-Sangari and Maria Ek Styvén.

The authors’ approach to better e-government is by employing a marketing one, something that has already been encouraged in the UK by the Cabinet Office. However, they do accept that this approach needs to be tailored for the public sector! Importantly they take a differing approach to segmentation, as on p.127 –

“In education, for example, a distinction can be made among those who ultimately pay for the service (taxpayers), those who are responsible for how the money is used (Ministry of Education and Research), those who decide what services should be supplied (principals and teachers), and those who are the direct users of the educational service (pupils/students) [Stokes and Lomax, 2008]. In such a case, who is the customer? Due to the difficulty in identifying the customer, public organizations must carefully consider to whom the marketing initiative should be addressed, e.g., who should be informed, educated, convinced and how? In education, for example, a distinction can be made among those who ultimately pay for the service (taxpayers), those who are responsible for how the money is used (Ministry of Education and Research), those who decide what services should be supplied (principals and teachers), and those who are the direct users of the educational service (pupils/students). In such a case, who is the customer? Due to the difficulty in identifying the customer, public organizations must carefully consider to whom the marketing initiative should be addressed, e.g., who should be informed, educated, convinced and how?”

Having said this, it is still necessary to be mindful of where we begin the process, which they pick up in their conclusion on p.131 –

“By following a market-oriented approach and placing citizens at the point of departure, public organizations can develop customized e-services. An understanding of citizens’ needs, attitudes, and behaviors is crucial in order to be able to develop, implement, and communicate public e-services that citizens will use.”

Not a million miles from some UK initiatives, such as the Chorley “Circle of Needs”, but again, they do emphasize the necessity of not borrowing wholesale from the private sector!

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