Social Media Applications Promote Constituent Involvement in Government Management

Social Media Applications Promote Constituent Involvement in Government Management

Gerald A. Merwin Jr. (Valdosta State University, USA), J. Scott McDonald (University of Texas at El Paso, USA), John R. Bennett Jr. (Valdosta State University, USA) and Keith A. Merwin (Merwin Associates, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9867-3.ch016
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This chapter explores the use of social media applications by local governments to communicate with constituents and promote involvement in policy and project management activities. Although public and private sector organizations make different uses of social media (Halverson, Hauknes, Miles, & Røste, 2005), there are many ways for government and nonprofit entities to make use of Web 2.0 applications. The focus in this chapter is on local government and a variety of examples will be provided. Some local government agencies primarily provide information to constituents through the social media apps, while others solicit the input from citizens to expand involvement. Finally, suggestions for future research and uses will be discussed.
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Disruptive Technologies Impact On Public Sector Policy Implementation And Project Management

Disruptive technologies and their ramifications are on the minds of government managers at all levels. In the private sector the impacts of disruptive technology are notable for displacing an earlier technology and the creation of new markets (Oram, 2001; Denning, 2014). In the public sector, one is more likely to see technologies coexist as market forces are less prevalent and the profit motive has far less impact. Nevertheless, disruptive technologies clearly impact how governments do business as well as what business governments might act to undertake (Bent, Østergaard, & Villumsen, 2002).

It is not difficult to identify some prior disruptive technologies and their impacts on how government transacts its business. For example finger printing, the automobile, and two-way radios yielded much of today’s modern law enforcement. More recently, the personal video camera and GIS are yielding significant changes in local law enforcement (Bellis, n.d.). These technology shifts impacted law enforcement while leaving much of the rest of government unimpacted. A more macro disruptive innovation has been and continues to impact all governments (with the possible exception of North Korea), at all levels, in innumerable ways -- the use of social media. Over the past decade or so, local governments have grappled with both the potentials and applications of this disruptive technology (Dixon & Keyes, 2013).

The Web is the root of numerous disruptions in the ways local governments operate, and no change has presented more potential than the use of social media to promote constituent involvement. Before proceeding it is essential to disaggregate citizen involvement into its two basic components: participation via political avenues; and participation by way of administrative government, the focus of this chapter. Briefly, political impacts of electronic media are well documented for at least two decades (Mayrowitz, 1995). The importance of contemporary social media in politics is evidenced in recent uprisings in the Arab world (Tufkei & Wilson, 2012).

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