A Complex Adaptive System Thinking Approach of Government E-Procurement in a Cloud Computing Environment

A Complex Adaptive System Thinking Approach of Government E-Procurement in a Cloud Computing Environment

Marc Rabaey (University of Hasselt, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2119-0.ch013


The main focus on e-Procurement in this chapter will be the public (government) e-Procurement, which is part of a larger whole, namely e-Government. e-Procurement and e-Government are very important tools for the government to act in this fast changing society. But as for must business, the tools may be important, but the vision and the strategy to use these tools are much more important. Therefore the chapter discusses e-Government and e-Procurement in their strategic contexts, in which intelligence (contextual integrated information) is a key factor to survive. The reason is because the government is a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). Without intelligence and the agility of its structure and processes, the government will not survive, or at least it will be less efficient and effective in developing strategies and in executing these strategies. The game theory discussion will show that the flexibility and agility of the e-Procurement system (together with a good strategy) are key factors for a successful system; otherwise e-Procurement is more of weakness in the government’s value chain of procurement of goods and services. In the last part of the discussion on Cloud Computing and e-Procurement, the author argues that ERP systems (so called best practices) are not well adapted to other contexts than the simple context of the Cynefin Framework. Service Oriented Architecture solutions can provide better (adapted) solutions for e-Procurement. Cloud Computing in combination with SOA may be the next generation solution.
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A government is a collection of institutions that act with authority and create formal obligations. A Government may administer or supervise a state, a set group of people, or a collection of assets (UNU-IIST-SP, 2008). Therefore an information system is needed to manage its functions and responsibilities, but a common characteristic for many governments is that the information systems of all the departments of the governments were in the beginning of Information Technology (IT) isolated and barely integrated.

The picture of an archipelago with a deep sea in-between represents better this situation. They were certainly not (inter)connected governmental departments, and every department had its own procurement service (automated or not). Later with the introduction of automated information systems, every island of the archipelago was automated differently and certainly not with integration of systems in mind. The Information Technology (IT) implemented by these governmental bodies was logically based on their own needs and way of working.

At the level of the (overall) system of government, this approach led often to incompatibilities and vulnerabilities, which result in considerable expenses due to the inability to collaborate or communicate between the different governmental bodies in an efficient and effective way, but worse the citizen is suffering from this: less service, more tax, and thus a less productive government.

Efforts to centralize the IT and/or to develop Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) were very costly projects and thus never fully executed. Luckily we are observing that the IT industry is moving towards an affordable form of technological integration solutions. This is not caused by an altruistic reflex of those companies, but by the Internet as the concept of interconnecting everything, everywhere at any time (Rabaey, 2012).

The newest trend is cloud computing (pay per use IT-services), which uses models such as the public cloud (for everybody), private cloud (only for one organization), hybrid cloud (mixture of public and private) and community cloud. Cloud Computing was first preceded by another (however related) technology: Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA will be the glue to combine legacy systems and Cloud Computing.

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