Ecology of Games as a Framework for Analysing E-Government Project Implementation

Ecology of Games as a Framework for Analysing E-Government Project Implementation

Shefali Virkar (University of Oxford, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch296

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Background: Understanding Actor Behaviour

The central issue that needs to be understood whilst studying project outcome through an analysis of actor interactions is thus: Why do people do what they do? (Virkar, 2011) One approach to understanding behaviour is to look at the rationality of individual actors, rather than the system as a whole. This is largely because political actors are driven by a combination of organisational and institutional roles and duties and calculated self-interest, with political interaction being organised around the construction and interpretation of meaning as well as the making of choices. It can therefore be extremely difficult to transplant new technologies and ways of working into organisations (March & Olsen, 1989).

Psychologists contend that human motivation must be understood as the product of the interaction between events and things in the social world and interpretations of those things in people’s psyches (Strauss, 1992). One approach to the study of motivation begins by defining motives, not with reference to internal stimuli but with reference to external goals, stemming from a number of different needs (D’Andrade, 1992). Political actors, in general, have a complex set of goals including power, income, prestige, security, convenience, loyalty (to an idea, an institution, or the nation), pride in work well done, and a desire to serve the public interest (as the individual actor conceives it). Actors range from being purely self-interested ‘climbers’ or ‘conservers’ motivated entirely by goals which benefit themselves and their status quo rather than their organizations or the society at large, to having mixed motives as ‘zealots’, ‘advocates’, and ‘statesmen’ motivated by goals which combine self interest and altruistic loyalty with larger values (Downs, 1964).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strategies: Include tactics, ruses, and ploys adopted by key actors during the course of a game to keep the balance of the engagement in their favour.

Actor(s): The individuals, groups or other entities whose interactions shape the direction and nature of a particular game being considered.

Actor Goals and Motivations: The aims that key actors seek to attain and maintain from interacting with other players, encompassing both broader long-term achievements as well as more short- to medium-term rewards.

Game(s): Arena(s) of competition and cooperation structured by a set of rules and assumptions about how to act in order for actors to achieve a particular set of objectives.

Moves: May be defined as actions, decisions and other plays made by key actors taken to arrive at key goals, usually if not always based on their strategy of choice.

Rules: The written or unwritten codes of conduct that shape actor moves and choices during a game.

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