How to Succeed with Multichannel Management: A Case Study of Cross-Organizational Collaboration Surrounding a Mandatory Self-Service Application for Danish Single Parents

How to Succeed with Multichannel Management: A Case Study of Cross-Organizational Collaboration Surrounding a Mandatory Self-Service Application for Danish Single Parents

Christian Østergaard Madsen, Pernille Kræmmergaard
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2016100107
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Citizens' use of e-government channels is considered key to achieving savings from the digitization of the public sector. Channel choice studies have found that citizens use multiple channels in a service encounter and e-government channels supplement, rather than replace traditional channels. This interplay between traditional and e-government channels remains to be explained. There is also a lack of empirical knowledge of how government organizations can apply findings from user studies and migrate citizens online while simultaneously reducing traffic through traditional channels. Therefore the authors present a detailed longitudinal case study of how public authorities collaborated to create a multichannel strategy for a mandatory online self-service application for single parents. After the strategy was carried out there was an increase in the use of the application and a substantial reduction in calls. The authors offer contributions to the channel choice literature and recommendations on multichannel management to practitioners.
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E-government is promoted as a means to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public authorities as well as citizen satisfaction (Chadwick & May, 2003). As e-government channels generally have lower transactions costs than traditional channels, citizens’ migration from traditional channels towards e-government channels is regarded as key to achieving savings (The Danish Government, 2011). Literature reviews of the e-government field show that the papers studied lack practical recommendations on how to achieve these benefits (Heeks & Bailur, 2007; Hofmann, Räckers, & Becker, 2012; Madsen, Berger, & Phythian, 2014).

The channel choice (CC) branch of e-government examines how citizens and businesses choose communication channels in a public service encounter and how government organizations can migrate citizens towards the most efficient channels (Pieterson, 2010). The majority of CC and e-government adoption studies have been conducted in settings where citizens have a choice of channels, not in mandatory settings where citizens have already adopted e-government channels. Thus, the interplay between channels and the continued use of traditional channels among those who have adopted e-government channels remain unexplained (Madsen & Kræmmergaard, 2015; Reddick & Anthopoulos, 2014). Although a strategy to fully integrate government organizations’ channels has been suggested (Pieterson, 2010), it has remained theoretical. Conducting such a strategy in practice is complicated as the channels involved are often managed by several organizations. There is a lack of knowledge and practical recommendations for how such cross-organizational collaborations can be conducted (Kernaghan, 2013). We seek to address these gaps by answering the following research question; how can public authorities successfully implement a mandatory channel strategy, to increase citizens’ use of e-government channels and simultaneously reduce the use of traditional channels?

We present a longitudinal case study (Yin, 2014) of a cross-organizational collaboration surrounding a mandatory online self-service application. By conducting a study among a group of citizens who have largely adopted the e-government channel, we can analyze the multichannel government-to-citizen (G2C) interaction which occurs in a post-adoption environment and how government organizations carry out multichannel management (MCM) in such settings.

The next section contains a description of the case and the mandatory setting in which our study takes place. This is followed by a presentation of existing literature on channel choice to position the paper, illustrating the relevance of the research question and expected contributions. Then our method for data collection and analysis is presented, before turning to a discussion of our findings in relation to CC literature, and contributions to research and practioners. Finally, we offer concluding remarks, limitations, and recommendations for future studies.

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