E-Participation in Local Government Decision Making: Swedish and Australian Case Studies

E-Participation in Local Government Decision Making: Swedish and Australian Case Studies

Peter Demediuk (Victoria University, Australia) and Rolf Solli (Goteborg University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-240-4.ch012
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Abstract

Modern society will only reach its potential when citizens individually and collectively are able to use their knowledge and capabilities to shape their lives and communities. Citizen participation in government decision making that uses online technologies is one way of leveraging this capacity, and has been termed e-participation. Case studies of a Swedish and an Australian local government examine how e-participation fits into initiatives to increase community involvement in decision making. Interactive chat sessions between stakeholders can facilitate debate. Information portals can provide supporting information in interesting and accessible ways. E-voting can enable greater input and influence by a wider number of citizens. But ultimately the technology choice and e-participation implementation must be driven by the objectives of the engagement exercise, and these can range from better decisions to community capacity building and issues of trust and legitimacy.
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Background

E-participation is an increasingly vital part of world-wide initiatives by governments to achieve a genuine, vibrant and effective democracy through greater public involvement in the work of governments and improved accountabilities (see for example Audit Commission, 2003; Department of Justice Canada, 2001; Solli, Demediuk, & Sims, 2005). The concept of e-participation intersects with the e-government, e-democracy, e-voting and e-governance debates (Demediuk, 2007; Macintosh, 2007a, 2007b). E-government refers to government’s use of information technology to exchange information and services with citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders. E-democracy is about using technologies to reinforce the connection between public officials and communities thereby leading to a stronger, more accountable and inclusive democracy. E-voting encompasses electronically enabled voting technologies that are designed to increase participation as well as providing a quicker and more cost effective means of organising public consultations. E-governance involves the use of information technology to improve relations and interaction between the public authorities and civil society to raise the quality of the services that governments deliver to citizens and businesses (Council of Europe, 2008). Consequently the issues in this chapter concerning e-participation are relevant to these other debates.

Where citizens become more involved as actors in the work of government outside the election cycle, a new form of governance ensues. This ‘local governance’ enables rational decision making by governments that is attuned to, and influenced by the community. This new localism is especially appealing at the local government level due to the closeness of the public and the services that councils provide – and so it is more practical to know communities better, make performance more visible, and ultimately give local people more power. The central argument is that increased citizen participation allows for better-informed government decision making that leads to improved policy and service delivery for the community. As well stimulating better decision processes and outcomes, citizen participation also has the potential to improve: the honouring of democratic ideals; social cohesion; community capacity; trust in government; legitimisation of authority; political stability; and skills and knowledge of the public and institutions (see for example Roberts, 2004; Thomas, 1995; Wang & Wart, 2007).

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
J. Satyanarayana
Preface
Susheel Chhabra, Muneesh Kumar
Acknowledgment
Susheel Chhabra, Muneesh Kumar
Chapter 1
Hai Thi Thanh Nguyen, Toshio Obi
The incorporation of e-business models into e-government applications is an additional approach in building the citizen-centric strategy. The value... Sample PDF
Government Transformation: The First Step to Integrate E-Business into E-Government
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Chapter 2
Vasiliki Moumtzi, Marios Chatzidimitriou, Adamantios Koumpis
Work reported in this chapter relates with work carried out in the context of the European IST Project SemanticGov (www.semantic-gov.org). The... Sample PDF
Collaborative E-Gov Networks: The Case of the Semantic-Gov Project
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Chapter 3
S. Siddharth, Rajat K. Baisya, Gupta
This case study examines the growth of e-governance in financial treasuries in India and examines the growth of computerization among treasuries... Sample PDF
Treasury Computerization in India: A Case Study
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Chapter 4
Petter Gottschalk, Hans Solli-Sæther
Improved interoperability between public organizations as well as between public and private organizations is of critical importance to make... Sample PDF
Interoperability in E-Government: Stages of Growth
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Chapter 5
Tagelsir Mohamed Gasmelseid
The adoption of e-government projects is growing both in scale and context across the world. While the implementation of such projects is increasing... Sample PDF
Towards an Organizationally Enabled E-Government Enterprise Architecture
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Chapter 6
Tuyen Thanh Nguyen, Donald Elkin Schauder
This chapter explores preconditions for the successful development of e-government in Vietnam, particularly the readiness of the population to... Sample PDF
Understanding Citizens' E-Readiness as a Precondition to Building a Responsive E-Government: A Case Study of Vietnam1
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Chapter 7
Kalpana Chauhan, K. B.C. Saxena
Customer Relationship Management (CRM), primarily a concept of the private sector for its multi-benefit approach, is catching up fast in public... Sample PDF
CRM in E-Government: Issues and Challenges
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Chapter 8
Susana Berenice Vidrio Barón
Human Computer Interaction is a relatively new field. It has borrowed theories, techniques, and tools from such diverse disciplines such as computer... Sample PDF
Human-Computer Interaction: National Culture and Electronic Government Website Usability
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Chapter 9
Shefali Nandan
Successful implementation of e-government programs, policies, and effective service delivery to citizens is faced with many obstacles related to... Sample PDF
E-Government: Good Deliverance through Effective Performance Management
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Chapter 10
Jeffrey Roy
The emergence of the Internet has given rise to internal connectivity and external, online delivery as centrepieces of both the public and private... Sample PDF
The Governance of Integrated Service Delivery in Canada: An Examination of Service Canada's New Business Model
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Chapter 11
Sangeeta Sharma
The changing economic scenario is redefining the socio-cultural dynamics. The notional domains of conventional concepts are changing and therefore... Sample PDF
Breaking Mind Inertia for Humane Business through E-Governance
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Chapter 12
Peter Demediuk, Rolf Solli
Modern society will only reach its potential when citizens individually and collectively are able to use their knowledge and capabilities to shape... Sample PDF
E-Participation in Local Government Decision Making: Swedish and Australian Case Studies
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Chapter 13
Pauline Ratnasingam
E-government has gained a lot of attention and public interests of government, technology providers, and researchers. Despite the growing awareness... Sample PDF
The Role of Knowledge Management Security Requirements for E-Government
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Chapter 14
Sanjay Nayyar, Vinayshil Gautam, M. P. Gupta
The railroads sector in the developing countries like the other services sectors (i.e. electricity, post, and telegraphs, health, and transport) are... Sample PDF
A Study of Information Systems in Indian Railways with Specific Reference to Konkan Railway Application Package
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Chapter 15
Daniel Serrano, Antonio Maña, Gimena Pujol, David Donnan, Joseph Latanicki
University of Málaga, Spain; University of Málaga, Spain; University of Málaga, Spain; Thales Services – Theresis, France; Thales Services –... Sample PDF
Security Aware Development of E-Government Systems
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About the Contributors