E-Participation: A Way for Creating Public Value

E-Participation: A Way for Creating Public Value

Rawan T. Khasawneh (Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan), Rasha A. Abu Shamaa (Yarmouk University, Jordan) and Wafa'a A. Rabayah (Yarmouk University, Jordan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6248-3.ch002
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Abstract

E-participation is a major part of e-government initiatives; it is a window through which governments interact with their citizens and allow for a healthier democratic environment. In addition, e-participation is one of the main elements in the free democratic world that is receiving growing interest by governments, through implementing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to involve citizens. This chapter sheds light on different aspects of e-participation; it views a three dimensional picture of e-participation theories and concepts, presents a number of real life examples for successful e-participation initiatives, and ends with an example of how to measure an e-participation initiative and evaluate its success.
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2. E-Participation: An Overview

In the age of e-government, the need to customize public services and information is increasing in order to make them available for citizens at the touch of a button, or click of a mouse. Achieving such thing would require collective effort from all parts including governments, private sectors, and the civil society to obtain effective e-participation within e-government, and to insure that regardless social, economic, or educational background of participants, everyone has an equal access opportunity.

It is necessary to distinguish between e-voting and e-participation which are considered as the two major dimensions of electronic democracy; both dimensions focus on the means through which government can strengthen the mechanisms of representative democratic decision making utilizing the available technologies (Saebo, Rose, & Flak, 2008).

E-Participation is all about making the decision-making processes easier by connecting people with the government and enabling them to submit their views, comments/complaints and advice to the government through the use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The overarching objectives of e-participation are to reach a larger portion of audience to enable broader participation, support participation process by providing a range of technologies to support the diverse technical and communicative skills of citizens, provide relevant information in a more accessible and more understandable format to the audience, and engage with a wider audience to enable deeper contributions and support deliberative debate (Macintosh, 2004).

Saebo, Rose, and Flak (2008, p.400) implied that e-participation involves “the extension and transformation of participation in societal democratic and consultative processes mediated by information and communication technologies (ICT), primarily the Internet”. Putting e-participation into action involves a variety of challenges that bring risks and barriers which need to be managed; political strategic barriers, organizational and legal barriers, value definition barriers, social barriers and technological barriers are examples of e-participation barriers that need to be managed (Gatautis, 2010).

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