Social Media and e-Participation: Challenges of Social Media for Managing Public Projects

Social Media and e-Participation: Challenges of Social Media for Managing Public Projects

Sebastian Vogt (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany), Bernadette Förster (Institute for Futures Studies and Knowledge Management (IFK), Germany) and Rüdiger Kabst (University of Paderborn, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8358-7.ch090
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Abstract

e-Participation has advantages over traditional modes of public participation: independent of time and place, information can be provided and updated at reasonable costs. A broad range of citizens can be involved regardless of demographics, family or work situation, thereby broadening the basis for public participation. Thus, public authorities seek to employ social media for the purposes of project management in terms of e-Participation. Nevertheless, social media presents challenges that need to be resolved to be suitable for e-Participation, such as user-friendliness, technical requirements for information preparation, and data protection requirements. Reviewing the literature, it is concluded that although common social media solutions are successful in generating attention for participation projects, they are not necessarily appropriate for conducting the project itself. Therefore, the case of a reference company offering a specialized platform and social network is introduced. It was identified as good practice in recent reports published by the European Commission.
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1. Introduction

Active participation by citizens constitutes the core of every democratic form of government (Arnstein, 1969; Creighton, 2005; Dahl, 2006; Pateman, 1975). Individuals are more likely to support realization of projects or the implementation of new regulations if they had been involved in the decision-making process (Potapchuk, 1996). Traditional modes of public participation include attending town meetings, which are often dominated by a small number of vocal and personally affected individuals who do not necessarily represent the opinion of the majority (Kingston et al., 2000). Such town meetings often restrict attendance to certain groups of citizens due to location and timing.

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