درک خطرات، منافع و گزینه های استراتژیک برنامه های رسانه های اجتماعی در بخش دولتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|9039||2012||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Government Information Quarterly, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2012, Pages 504–511
Social media such as blogs, microblogs or electronic social networks can transform the ways in which we relate to other people and organizations. Government organizations are experimenting with social media to communicate with their constituents, and many analysts see in these media a powerful set of tools to reinvent government–citizen relationships. In this paper, we present the perceptions of risks, benefits and strategic guidelines about social media applications gathered from 250 public servants from Central Mexico, most of them working in information technology, as web masters or responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. The conclusions of the analysis are 1) that governments' participation in social media may result in improved communication and citizen participation, more transparency, and transfer of best practices among government agencies; 2) that a good implementation strategy is necessary to realize these benefits and to avoid risks; and 3) that the implementation of social media highlights the importance of updating laws and regulations, and of promoting changes in government culture and organizational practices.
In the government, new media are capable of transforming power relationships between citizens and organizations to create a more open government; new media might even have the potential to transform current governance system at the city, state or country levels. In the private sector, organizations used social media to build customer relationships, interesting business models, or ways to create competitive advantages (Anderson, 2006, Surowiecki, 2004 and Tapscott and Williams, 2006). In the government, these applications facilitate openness, transparency, and democratization (Lathrop and Ruma, 2010 and Noveck, 2009). Moreover, events such as the WikiLeaks affair, in which private communications between the U.S. Secretary of the State and U.S. diplomats were made public, point toward the fact that the concepts of open government democracy and freedom of information were being transformed by social media. Although there are many benefits and promises from social media and related technologies, several risks are associated with their use. In the past, technology applications like email and chats (text and video) were used to increase communication between organizations and their main constituents. These efforts have resulted both in benefits for organizations, and in some unanticipated problems. For example, when organizations began to communicate with their customers over email, the main concerns pertained to the technology (e.g. the server or website), but not of the organizational changes that were needed. In this case, organizations neither assigned this responsibility to specific personnel, nor trained the personnel to respond to customers' requests. So email answers took days or weeks, if they came at all. The result of the technology was customer dissatisfaction. The number of participants in social media websites like Facebook or Twitter continues to grow, with more than 800 million active users in Facebook (Facebook, 2012), and 300 million users of Twitter (Taylor, 2011). Growing dynamics of electronic social networks suggest that social media is not a fad. All types of individuals and organizations use social media. Public and private organizations are using social media to communicate with citizens and customers with different results, and not necessarily as a component of a long-term strategy. Many organizations have adopted social media following a trial-and-error approach, and at the expense of several organizational resources. For instance, an exploration of Mexican states' use of social media shows that only about 400,000 citizens out of 100 million are exchanging information with their state governments (Sandoval-Almazán, Gil-Garcia, Luna-Reyes, Luna-Reyes, & Díaz-Murillo, 2011). Moreover, this same study shows that about 20% of Mexican states discontinued their use of Twitter or Facebook during the last year. Social media is still a new technology that needs to be better understood in terms of its benefits, risks, barriers and strategic use. In this paper we introduce the perceived risks and benefits of social media among public servants from Mexico, and especially the strategic elements to include social media in e-government policy and as a communication channel with citizens. To accomplish this objective, the paper consists of five sections including this introduction. In Section 2, we define social media, previous studies of the use of social media at organizations, their use in the public sector, and a conceptual framework that is useful to organize the perceptions of participants. In Section 3, the research methodology is elaborated. In Section 4, the results of the study are explained. Finally, in Section 5 we present the findings and conclusions, and we suggest some ideas for further research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Although participants in the study visualize several risks related to the implementation of social networks, they agree that several benefits may result from its use. These risks and benefits frequently were two sides of the coin. For example, one of the perceived benefits of social networks consists of increasing citizens' trust on the government and to improving the face of government. The risk of this benefit is that opening up information may indeed increase mistrust in government. In other cases, benefits appear to be a solution to an existing problem. For example, participants identified as a risk the culture of general criticism to government activities and results, which they think is a result of lack of information of government achievements. In this case the use of social networks may increase the knowledge of citizens about government's achievements and may also reduce criticism of government practices. Additionally, by looking at the different statements of perceived risks and benefits, it is possible to identify some areas of disagreement among participants. For instance, they perceive that social media use will change the culture of citizen participation, but at the same time they fear that they will lose control over the information. At the same time, they are hoping for improved quality and quantity of contact with the citizens both in quality and quantity, but they fear the lack of organizational capacities to respond to this increased communication. Consistent with the literature, participants acknowledged the importance of a good strategy for implementing social networks (Dadashzadeh, 2010). Participants indicated some components related to the general context, in terms of desired future public service value, such as the promotion of social networks use among citizens. In terms of technology, the establishment of an inventory of IT capabilities and emerging technologies was considered as important for participants: identifying best tools, defining the platform and creating prototypes. As far as the institutional framework is concerned, participants identified aspects related to social media governance: social networks, use of regulations and legal framework. The majority of these observations belonged to the area of organizational structure and processes, which is common in this kind of exercise. This fact reflects the importance that participants assign to the reorganization of government structures. It also may indicate the perceived lack of an infrastructure to deal with citizens' complaints, or the perceived lack of personnel with the skills to use these tools. This set of concerns also stresses the importance of clear guidelines for government employees' use of social media. It is also important to note that the institutional component is very important to develop social media applications in the government. Participants described the importance of creating or updating laws and regulations, and of promoting changes in government culture and practices. To participate in social networks, governments have two options: to include this functionality in their own sites, or to use sites like Facebook or Twitter. From the comments of the participants we found that governments do not have a clear strategy, although current trends point to create mash-ups of public social media sites with the government portals. Moreover, participants agreed that monitoring commercial networks is an important strategic way to understand context and citizens. It is also interesting that information and data were rather important in discussions of risks and benefits, referring to quality attributes of data such as reliability, integrity, accessibility or validity. However, these elements were not present in discussions of strategic alternatives, where participants focused on information organization. Some basic strategic guidelines for governments that could be extracted from the focus groups: 1. Be aware of the context. It is important for the government not only to incorporate social media into its practices, but also to monitor information and comments about the government on social media sites. 2. Understand the problem. Governments need to understand the problem that is to be solved by social media applications. 3. Develop a plan. Governments need to reflect the strategic objectives of social media use, and adjust practices and processes accordingly. This plan should be incorporated into formal government plans. 4. Develop guidelines for use of social media. Government employees require general guidelines for using social media at work and in their private life. 5. Build capacities. Employee training, process integration, and capacities for interorganizational collaboration and knowledge sharing will continuously improve the use of social media. Workshops like the ones described here are important social spaces where public servants can reflect on problems and alternatives to implementing IT strategies and on the measures for success. If participants in this study decide to implement social networks they will do it with a better sense of what needs to be planned. In this case they will have more opportunities to be successful. These results are consistent with the literature in terms of the risks perceived to start social media projects. In other words, the importance that participants gave to strategic components and legal and regulatory frameworks as important enablers/barriers of the use of social media in the government have been previously reported in the literature (Dadashzadeh, 2010). Moreover, participants' concerns about quality and reliability of the information in the social networks as well as privacy concerns are also recurrent themes in governments' implementation of social media (e.g. Bertot et al., 2012, Bryer and Zavattaro, 2011, Landsbergen, 2010 and Sherman, 2011). We learn that some risks identified by participants are context-specific and were not among the issues mentioned by authors of previous studies. Some of them include the incompleteness of the technological infrastructure of government offices, the limited number of citizens that could be benefited from social media implementations, and the lack of training for employees to use these tools. In countries like Mexico, not all government offices have the technology and the internet access to implement social media. With only 30% of the population having internet access, the effect of social media on citizens' communications is limited. This could have both advantages and disadvantages as governments may implement social media and learn incrementally to cope with this functionality as internet access becomes universal. Finally, capacitation schemas must be developed to teach social media functionality to government officials. The main perceived benefits associated with social media reported in this paper are similar to those identified in the literature (Chang and Kanan, 2008, Chun et al., 2010, Cromer, 2010, Dorris, 2008, Kuzma, 2010 and Landsbergen, 2010). Participants agreed that social media in the general context category improves efficiency, allows better communications between the government and the citizens as well as trust and democracy; in addition, it is a source of legitimization and credibility. In the information and data category, it provides a better user convenience for the dissemination and transmission of information and content. As far as the institutional framework category is concerned, it encourages transparency and accountability; it helps voters to raise their expectations; and, in relation to citizen involvement, it contributes to a better organizational structure and processes, allowing the inclusion of citizens in the generation of content and information. In addition, other benefits of social media reported by participants pertained to technology: scalability and free tools, interorganizational collaborations and networks, allowing the transfer of best practices and intensification of network interactions. Another important finding is the lack of a regulatory framework in Mexico to govern the use of social media. Countries like the U.S. have developed policy instruments such as Policies for Federal Agency Websites (OMB Memo M-05-04), and E-Authentication Guidance for Federal Agencies (OMB Memo M-04-04) (Bertot et al., 2012). This study has several limitations, one of which is that we did not include participants from all regions of Mexico. However participant states represent about 30% of the total population in the country. Another limitation is that the some findings are context-specific. The Mexican government has a bureaucratic image and a reputation for wasting its resources. So, risks, benefits, and strategic components found in the study could be the result of the political and organizational conditions of Mexico's government. However, we think that these results confirm the findings of previous studies. We also identified several issues that could be interesting for several Latin American countries that are similar to Mexico. Future research can focus on specific projects in the Mexican government to better understand strategic objectives, institutional frameworks and results. Such research will have an impact on the development of better strategies to include social media in the government. For practice, we believed that participants in this study are pointing in the right direction in proposing a clear and strategic design of social media applications. Moreover, as one of them stated in the workshop, electronic social networks and other social media are here to stay, and governments need to start using them to have a more active participation in shaping the new ways of interacting between individuals and organizations, changing power relations, governance and democracy.