Digital Government @ Work: A Social Informatics Perspective

Ian McLoughlin, Rob Wilson, Mike Martin

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Digital Government at Work aims to provide a new perspective on the use of digital technologies to provide more joined-up public services. Drawing upon extensive research conducted from inside live projects over a ten-year period, the issue of how the digitalization of services can be made more relevant and useful to both front-line service providers and the citizens they are aimed at is subject to fresh scrutiny. Using insights from the field of social informatics, the authors illustrate the dangers of too much integration and centralization of data and suggest an alternative approach based on the ideas of infrastructure and federation. Central to this is a recasting of the process of system design and adoption that places a new emphasis on the role of ‘users’ (both service providers and service end-users) in the co-production of both system and service innovations. Underpinning these arguments is an alternative model of conversational relationships or ‘architectural discourse’ through which designers engage in system design and development and users seek to articulate their needs and requirements. This framework provides a new approach to understanding how designers and users interact and opens up possibilities for innovation to take place through more effective user appropriation of technologies. It is through such means that the potential to improve the coordination of service delivery and the experience of service users can be increased. A corollary of this is that the evolution of digital era governance is more likely to be supported by infrastructural and federal information and organization architectures. In contrast to enterprise-based notions of integration and centralized data—where system designers make key a priori decisions over the way systems will be deployed and used—such architectures are inherently more open to user appropriation and user-led innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199557721
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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