Enhancing Information Services through Public-Private Partnerships: Information Technology Knowledge Transfer Underlying Structures to Promote Civic Engagement

Enhancing Information Services through Public-Private Partnerships: Information Technology Knowledge Transfer Underlying Structures to Promote Civic Engagement

Seok-Jin Eom (Seoul National University, Korea) and Jane Fountain (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8553-6.ch012


What are e-government success factors for using public-private partnerships to enhance learning and capacity development? To answer this question, the authors developed a comparative case analysis of the development of the Business Reference Model (BRM), a national-level e-government initiative to promote shared information services, in the U.S. federal government and the Korean central government. The results indicate that private sector partners in both countries played various roles as “brokers” of information technology (IT) knowledge between government and the private sector by: raising awareness of the necessity of the BRM; providing best practices; developing pilot projects; and developing implementation strategies. However, the study finds that the two countries took entirely different approaches to working with non-governmental organizations in BRM development with implications for project success.
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How do government agencies learn from non-governmental organizations?1 More specifically, how do governments adopt and adapt policies, practices and knowledge from non-governmental sectors? How do federal governments develop inter-organizational relationships across sectors (public, private and non-profit) to enhance and speed learning and development of new capacity? How do countries differ in their approaches to these challenges?

As an effective way of developing government IT capacity with relationship with private actors, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been paid attention to not only from government practitioners but also from academia. In e-government practice, the PPPs have become an accepted management practice as a large percentage of IS/IT projects has been outsourced (Swar, Moon, Oh, & Rhee, 2012; Currie, 1996). Therefore, various PPP measures such as active communication with e-government users, strategic IS/IT partnership with various IS/IT experts, and effective outsourcing management have been recommended as key success factors for e-government building by IS/IT project management tools for public agencies (Gil-garcia & Pardo, 2005).

With these trends in practice, recent research has enhanced our understandings of the activities of private firms in providing information services and building e-government (Fountain, 2007, 2001; Dunleavy, Margetts, Bastow, & Tinkler, 2006; Yildiz, 2004; Margetts, 1999). More specifically, a lot of research on the characteristics of IS/IT outsourcing and the determinants of ‘good’ relationship for IS/IT outsourcing success in public sector have been published in academic journals (Swar et al., 2012; Moon, Jung, Chung, & Choe, 2007; Van Der Wal, Huberts, Van Den Heuvel, & Kolthoff, 2006).

However, it is still argued that the research on the PPP in public sector is particularly under studied and it is not easy to find the reference books for practitioners on IS/IT outsourcing in the public agencies (Lin, Pervan, & McDermid, 2007; Moon et al., 2007). More specifically, close analysis of the concrete activities of private partners and their interactions with government organizations remains insufficiently examined. Moreover, very little cross-national comparative research on these questions has been undertaken in spite of the fact that different central governments have institutionalized different types of public-private partnerships.

In order to shed light on these research questions and to overcome some of the limitations of previous research, the authors developed two detailed case studies to examine inter-organizational developments across sectors, including and moving beyond PPPs. The empirical setting for the two case studies includes the agencies and other organizations central to the development of the Business Reference Model (BRM) in the federal government of the U.S. and the central government of Korea. The BRM, one of the national e-government initiatives in both countries, is a means to develop shared definitions of data across government programs and agencies. A “dictionary” of sorts is created that can then serve the needs of different agencies thereby making shared data and shared, interactive services for civic engagement possible. Private firms spent about a decade developing BRMs for use in the private sector. The U.S. and Korean governments sought to learn from these firms in order to move quickly to develop core capacity to support new shared services for civil society.

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