The purpose of this article is to contribute to the definition of the still emerging strategic concept of e-societal management (e-SM) as a key component of the information society (IS). It is a continuation of articles published in the Encyclopedia of Digital Government (Antiroikko, 2006; see also, Costake, 2008a, 2008b) which describe the concepts of: (1) e-government (e-Gvt) as a set of e-services provided by the public administration (i.e., executive authority) to citizens and organizations, and (2) e-governance (e-G) as including also the set of e-services provided by the judicial and legislative authorities of the state. The two quoted chapters contain the historical perspectives mainly between the mid-1990s (e.g., G7 Conference on Information Society, 1995) and the mid 2000s (e.g., the EU’s i2010 Program, 2006). The above definition of e-G may be interpreted also as equivalent to the e-SM at the country level and below, provided that the actions of the three authorities converge to assure continuous and sustainable socio-economic development. On the other hand, the new century started with increased global threats and also opportunities (e.g., the development of the IS). Both suggest the importance of the societal management, as well as the difference between enterprise management, which aims to achieve performance within a given national and international societal environment, and societal management, which aims to assure the societal environment best supporting developments of the economy and civilization. It follows that the historical development of e-SM is connected to the rather slow evolution of SM and the rapidly developing IS, including e-Gvt and e-G. Its start can be considered the UN General Assembly’s Declaration on Computer and Development (UN, 1968), followed by the UN’s World Summit for the IS (e.g., WSIS, 2005), which adopted requirements for national and international e-SM (implicitly addressed). E-procurement for public acquisitions, the “Trans-European Administration Network” recommended for the EU by Bangemann et al. (1994), and the start of the Single Euro Payment Area project in 2002 (see SEPA, 2007, which contains complete chronology and content) are examples of other relevant milestones. E-SM is a concept built on those of socio-economic system (SES) and societal management. Many opinions were expressed. This article begins by sketching a model of the socioeconomic system as a foundation; selects, with the risk of being subjective, a number of relevant positions taken by individual institutional and authors; describes e-SM and its associated issues and trends; and proposes conclusions.
Background To E-Government And The Digital Divide
Nowadays governments around the world are embracing electronic government. In a broad sense, e-government can be defined as the process by which government communication and administration processes are made available using ICTs. All such technologies can improve service and output in the same way that they have revolutionized work and leisure of lives—the main difference being that e-government programs recognize that not all citizens have equal access to technology and need to be implemented accordingly. In the literature it is also recognized that e-government in the developing world must accommodate certain unique conditions, needs, and obstacles. E-government gives citizens access to relevant information and makes government more accountable to its citizens. Ultimately, e-government aims to enhance access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens (Pascual, 2003).
In the same way that there are social and economic divides between poor and rich countries, in the field of ICTs there are also divides between those who can access and use ICT to gain the associated benefits and those who do not have access to the technology or cannot use it for one reason or another (Bridges.org, 2002). These digital divides exist between countries (‘international divide’) and between groups within countries (‘domestic divide’). In looking at the difference in access between developed and developing countries, Gumucio-Dagron (2003) notes that the “divide has never been only a ‘digital’ or technological divide. It is a social, economic and political fracture.” The divide between technology ‘haves’ and technology ‘have nots’ is significantly wide.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Human Rights: Rights defined in the UN Declaration of 1948, updated by similar international documents.
E-Societal Management: ICT - enabled management of the SES whose domain may include an international component and covers the entire management content, including strategic management.
Public Sector: System of public institutions, and enterprises owned or managed by public institutions. This system may have many levels: international, regional, national (central, sectoral, or territorial), usually hierarchically organized. It covers executive (e.g., central and local governments, public finance, etc.), legislative (e.g., Parliament, etc.), homeostatic (e.g., Judiciary, etc.), and societal feedback (e.g., electoral, statistic, auditing, etc.) oriented institutions.
E-Government: ICT-enabled management of the executive authority of a local or national SES. Its main content is made up of the e-services provided to people and organizations (obviously has the highest political content for a government which may be changed every four or five years).
E-Governance: ICT-enabled management of an SES whose domain is limited to a national/federal one, including e-government as one component, and not necessarily including the executive (strategic) management.
Public Institution: Organization whose mission is to serve the SES and is financed at least in large part by public money.