Supporting Public Policy Making Processes with Workflow Technology: Lessons Learned From Cases in Four European Countries

Supporting Public Policy Making Processes with Workflow Technology: Lessons Learned From Cases in Four European Countries

Aggeliki Tsohou (Brunel University, UK), Habin Lee (Brunel University, UK), Karim Al-Yafi (Brunel University, UK), Vishanth Weerakkody (Brunel University, UK), Ramzi El-Haddadeh (Brunel University, UK), Zahir Irani (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, UK), Andrea Ko (Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary), Tunc D. Medeni (Turksat, Turkey) and Luis Miguel Campos (PDM&FC, Lisbon, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jegr.2012070104
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Abstract

Workflow technology has been proven as an enabler for numerous benefits for private and public organizations. Including: cost reduction, efficiency savings in terms of time and cost, increased capability, faster processing, reductions in errors, and work iterations, service quality and customer satisfaction. Public sector has endorsed these benefits by adopting workflow management systems to support administrative processes, such as human resources management or claims processing. This technology is yet to be utilized to support the formulation of policy making processes to facilitate the participation of citizens in the policy making processes and increase their awareness on political issues. This paper Investigates the feasibility of adopting workflow tools for the support of decision making processes that lead to development of public policies, despite the variant institutional settings. To do so, public policy making processes from four countries were examined and analyzed. The results are explored further in the article.
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1. Introduction

In the effort to sustaining competitive advantage, reducing administrative burdens and/or enabling innovation in services and products provision, organizations often continuously attempt to optimize their various business functions. Within this objective, business process redesign and workflow management attracted the recent interest of researchers and practitioners in private and public sectors. Business process redesign or re-engineering is used to optimize specified business processes while workflow models support this transformation of business and information processes. Workflows can be defined as a collection of tasks organized to accomplish some business process while workflow management systems coordinate and streamline business processes. Among the main benefits of workflow tools, cost reduction and efficiency savings (time and cost reductions to complete a process), increased capability, faster processing, reductions in errors and work iterations, service quality and customer satisfaction have been reported (Georgakopoulos et al., 1995). According to the research and market 2011 survey “Workflow Management Systems Market 2010-2013” the adoption of workflow management systems has reduced the response time of processes by 20% and increased business productivity by an impressive 50%. Further, in this survey, workflow management services have been widely adopted in the private sector, especially in the financial and manufacturing sectors. Public sector also holds a significant share in the workflow technology adoption which is commonly combined with public reform initiatives; Schäl (1998) reported nearly 50% of workflow technology licenses for government and health care agencies at the United States and United Kingdom.

While workflow technology has been widely adopted in the public sector, the use of this technology is mostly limited to supporting only back-end administrative business processes (Lee et al., 2011). Among the most common workflow applications for the public sector are a) claims processing and management, b) bid and proposal routing and tracking, c) handling of customer service and complaints, d) grant and scholarship award, approval, and processing, d) human resource recruitment and hiring. Researchers have suggested to not restraining the employment of workflow tools only to the automation of administrative public processes. On the contrary, the adoption of workflow technology for the formulation of policy making processes is expected to reshape public policies by facilitating the participation of citizens in the policy making processes. However, developing a workflow model to support policy-making processes that can exceed national, local or even sector borders, remains a challenging issue. Can the public policy formulation processes be generically abstracted in a way that the produced models apply to the different political and institutional contexts? In this study we investigate the feasibility of creating a workflow model that can support the automation of public policy making processes exceeding the limitations posed by the context diversities. To do so, policy making processes within four countries are examined in order to highlight commonalities and distinctions. In sequence to this introduction, a definition of public policies is provided along with the advancements in policy making modelling approaches. Then we present our research setting and research methods applied. Afterwards, the analysis of collected data is given. The paper continues with a discussion on the findings and conclusions.

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