2012 EGPA Annual Conference Permanent Study Group I: Information and Communications Technologies in Public Administration Valeria Pignato

PhD in “Sociology of Innovation and Development” Faculty of Human and Social Sciences University of Enna “Kore” - Sicily (Italy) e-mail: valeria.pignato@unikore.it

How to read development lines of e-government in the Public Administrations? Towards the construction of an interpretative model Introduction
On 15th February 2010, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for “Digital Agenda”, during his first official public event, spoke thus: «many of you may be asking what exactly does she mean by the Digital Agenda? […] In the broader sense, we are referring to a cross-cutting and very ambitious agenda for action that will keep Europe at the forefront of 21st century economic and social developments» (Kroes 2010). This is one of the initiatives of “Europe 2020”, which sets targets for growth in the European Union (EU) to be reached by 2020. The Digital Agenda aims to exploit the full potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to foster innovation, economic growth and progress. Among dimensions used by European Commission which illustrate the key elements of the European information society, there is e-government. Technological innovations, therefore, are placed at the center of this change process and when they begin to influence the performance of public administration, we witness a radical change in the management of public affairs: “the transition of the industrial society is an emerging society of information” (Holmes 2001: 19). Today there are those who speak of “public communication 2.0” (Lovari and Masini 2008) and the birth of a context of “cyberdemocracy” (Lévy 2008), to describe the innovation that involved the public administration both in its relationship with the user - whether it be himself, the citizen or the business - and in internal relations within the structure itself, all thanks to technology and the revolutionary process that wants to bet on the active participation and new forms of listening and language. Holmes (2001: 13) writes that e-gov, in other words “the technologies applied to the complex sphere of the relations between citizens and institutions”, represents “a double challenge, because it involves the government getting closer to technology, intended as a tool of efficiency, savings and greater transparency and closeness to the needs of the citizen; but also a contemporary closeness of the technologies to the government, meaning a definite awareness of the necessities to not invade and regulate, but to go forth in an intelligent way in the role that technology can and should play in society”. Miani expresses himself in similar terms (2005: 30), appealing to some articles of the Italian Constitution - among all art. 2 and art. 21 - he states that “e-government and e-democracy are terms of the same equation that sees the application of new technologies in the public sphere. [...] The new technologies must be put at the service of building a relationship between state and citizen that is focused on the citizen, as expected from the spirit of the same Constitution”. E-government is the focus of many recent reflections that allow you to identify the advances and limitations for promoting administrative modernization, focusing on the actors, on the strategies and on the tools - from electronic identity and from digital signature to the checklist for accessibility and usability - that make it possible (Andersen 2005; Marasso 2005).


regulated in the Public Administrations of individual European countries. This work of methodological-organizational nature constitutes the first step of a search on e-gov. what is the time dimension through which it realizes a “wikicrazia” experience. is in its primary stage and all advice is most welcome. therefore. the GT approach becomes essential. slower developments. is occupied. It is a development model that emerges from below. on the contrary. which will be followed by a second phase: the rigorously interpretative phase. communicative. administrative. therefore. that embraces our lives. which goes well with the research operation of this paper. it is known as Diderot in the mideighteenth century defined it in his “Encyclopedia”. The use of GT is due to the inductive nature of this methodology. times and places of these technological processes offered to citizen-users: through which tools edemocracy is declined today. It allows you to make the leap from available documents reading to the creation of a theory (Glaser and Strauss 1967). for the man of our times. The GT offers the possibility to create a theoretical framework through the analysis of data. therefore. in other words. But two things must be clarified from now. The mapping operation of the e-gov starts without the presence of pre-existing theories. The map. Therefore the map. It is particularly suitable to explore a wide phenomenon and its underlying processes. but analytical and flexible.Methodology From a methodological point of view. becomes a tool in order to monitor the development lines of e-gov. Europe is investing so much on the digitization theme of public services. Innovation technology. two aspects must be distinguished with regard to the construction of the map. within this innovative and technological context. are behind and technological backward.Technology is a fundamental tool able to meet the needs of various kinds. But not only. They. Secondly. it is not an abstract theoretical framework. drawn below. indicators and variables. The methodological effort described in this paper has the ultimate goal of mapping the European experiences on e-gov. 1 . but it needs to be systematically organized in a theoreticalinterpretative model provided by James Thompson work. a compass which orients experts to explore the entire phenomenon. which would otherwise remain hidden.Research objective The objective this paper want to reach is prepare a roadmap in order to consistently organize a multidimensional phenomenon such as e-government. Unbeaten or overflowing roads could emerge. Time and more efforts are necessary. taxes. The only available evidence are the empirical researches accomplished by scholars community until now. The “theoretical sensitivity” (Glaser 1978) of this approach is its strong point. judicial. “Organizations in Action” (1967). by the use of ICT (Holmes 2001). which countries offer the best examples of e-gov and which. as a positive and rational development in support of the “arts”. The most common trends. which follows the logic of discovery. And this path of research. in other words. This paper. aims to become a sort of “thermometer of e-gov 2. It represents. 2 . here in the primary stage.0” in all its dimensions identified in the map. This work of synthesis is too ambitious and long to be exhausted and completed in about ten pages. have to lead to the 2 . A fundamental space. military. Starting from some more recent studies on electronic government. lacking processes would be recorded within this map. in order to fully understand contents. In this work. better. through the grounded theory (GT) methodology. a propaedeutic phase. of which we may serve to improve the interaction between different stakeholders and enrich the exchange of information. it intends to represent a macro-synthesis that breaks down the phenomenon in question in dimensions. describes the construction process of this map on e-gov. therefore. is also linked to the needs of daily life (Iacono 2003). economical. adaptable to empirical research and its future implications.

. and the logic of what governs them consists in the continuous reconciliation of opposing characters (Bonazzi 1989: 396)”. After being collected. meso and macro.) that does not exhaust the interpretation of the phenomenon of e-gov 3 . which allows to operate in stable situations free of uncertainty. the data on which this analysis was based are international requirements.. of mechanistic and organic co-exist and feed off each other [. respond to the challenges coming from the hyper-technological external environments and adapt to them revolutionizing their business policies? (meso level). that advice and future discussion are needed to remedy any wrongdoing and inaccuracies that this methodology inevitably carries: according to Glaser and Strass (1967) the GT methodology for the study of a phenomenon produces a theoretical work on multiple levels. The organizations. are like oxymorons lowered into reality. based on salient themes and basic categories. dominated by rational logic and characterized by the regular and systematic function of the organizations that operate in a closed and routine context. “the principles of closure and openness. . It interprets the categories all together and aims to understand how the codes relate among them. The theoretical model here presented set in a primary stage. In this way. in order to formulate a response to the research question (Charmaz 2006). the theory begins to take shape. the encoding operation becomes more and more analytical and detailed. in his most famous work describes the organizational reality outlining three levels: micro. the map is woven. This intrepretative operation begin from a fundamental piece of work in the history of organized thought: “Organizations in Action” by James Thompson (1967). The micro level is the innermost level of the organized apparatuses. where it was not possible to separate rational and natural dynamics (Gouldner 1970). The macro level is that which concerns the relationship between organizations and the external environment. through which public action of the administrative institutions articulates itself. Identified these macro-categories.new challenges directed at the e-government should the local and national governments respond (livello macro). says Thompson. in fact. the data were collected and. The researcher believed that organizations were places dominated by coexisting dishomogeneity. The meso level is the intermediate level that must find a meeting point between the first closed and rational level and the opened and natural level. of rationality and activity. an operation of “rational interpretation” of the most recent researches on egovernment issue has been accomplished. then. Thompson (1967).explanation of the investigation object. In organizations. It can be considered a substantive theory (ibid. that operate in the public government offices. on the contrary. better. Each of these has become a macrocategory that contain all the issues related to e-gov. the data were coded. gradually identified.mediations or o le ways in which the actors.]. was driven by the organizational model developed by Thompson. The categorization process. once again. We emphasize. GT.the infra-governmental performances and the means that form and characterize the policies put into effect from the public administrations (micro level). have been used. that is: . allows you to query data and categories. At first.Therefore. and dat analysis can start. are found to act simultaneously according to the bounded rationality criteria identified by Simon (1947). thus. bearer of uncertain circumstances and difficult to dominate or coordinate itself following the logic dictated by limited rationality. allowing you to adjust to the challenges received from the outside world and to introduce the necessary changes to the solid core of the organizations. research experiences available online and papers presented in the last three years (from 2009 to 2011) during EGPA annual conferences. which. codified through salient themes and basic categories. Specifically. the initial question that guided this work was generally: how can we read development lines of e-government in Public Administration? Around it. . In order to obtain a first code map these three levels.

are the internal activities and tools (table 1) used by the public administrations in recent years in which the digital revolution has taken more speed. regional. Table 1. It is through these elements. where one can realize a check and a programmed in time monitoring.1.provision of online services Tools In reference to the internal activities. Regarding the tools used. The final outcome is the construction of an explorative map about digital government. the operational strategies of e-gov consist in “putting everything (information and services) online and ensure easy and universal access to the information and to the services on-line”.3 . looking at the Italian legislation 2000 regarding e-gov. avoiding at the same time a sterile technological determinism. meso . 3. . that we want to outline egov. At each level. 3. Part of this perspective.interconnection network among governments and the back office .The e-gov micro system At the micro level (Thompson 1967). digital signatures. national): in this direction.pdf 4 .strategic plan and monitoring plan .equipment of ICT .Towards a roadmap The construction process of the roadmap on e-gov uses “Organizations in Action” by Thompson (1967) and the three levels by him identified . to online payments (Miani. that of the assets. . we want to monitor the intrinsic initiative brought forth by the organizations. they regard the creation of an administrative system that already internally has: .pre-determined objectives in a strategic plan. 2005: 5354). when they are dominated by rational logical and characterized by a regular and systematic function. “it constitutes anyway a generally accepted principle that the use of the computer and of information technology and of communication are one of the main solutions to emerge from the 1 www.micro. in view of a public administration increasingly more digitalized. discussed in this first part of monitoring. macro. to e-procurement.The e-gov micro level: Assets Internal activities MICRO LEVEL . Consider.1 .a network that connects both the different sectors in which a PA is divided both the institutions distributed over distinct territories and institutional levels (local. typical of a closed and routine environment. .as a lens through which to view e-government and divide it into its main themes. and also the plan of action of legislature 2002.Equipment of ICT The first point of the analysis concerning the allocation of ICT. based on theoretical literature and having as a reference the document prepared by the OECD in 2003 entitled “The egovernment imperative: main findings”1 correspond specific variables and factors which are intended to describe e-gov.formation and electronic training .oecd.a continuous process of formation and electronic training of the staff (Miani 2005: 50-54). to e-health and to databases. electronic identification cards. Belisario (2009: 17) writes. as Holmes writes (2001: 22-23).technological and ICT resources. an important role is played by the presence of a robust and organized back-office. they have already included among their priorities the technological of services for citizens. then. for example.1 .org/dataoecd/60/60/2502539. And again. represents the necessary condition in order to start speaking about electronic e-gov.

The e-government imperative: main findings. sales and marketing. of a specific ICT at a given time. “Open government”. Faccioli 2000. therefore. in order to justify continued political and public support. At the same time. therefore. The latter. In other words. 6). must inevitably hinge on ICT provisions. needs to be treated as an investment. where appropriate. The level of performance in Italy. E-government must not be reduced to a group of mere technical and automated procedures. Assessment should be realistic and done within time frames that are useful to decision-makers. the adoption and use of ICT. The e-government imperative: main findings. 10 of Chapter II on the “management reform” states that the public administrations must develop a “Plan for performance and a Report on performance”. Iacono 2003. The provision of ICT. For example. customer satisfaction. with consideration of projected streams of returns. corporate communications. in fact. it is necessary to make a semantic clarification: the concept of “adoption” indicates possession. in line with the potentials offered by technology itself. 3). represents a key element for the success of digital government (OECD 2003)2. 2003. of legislation and national origin and not only .2 . Grandi 2001. for example. As services become more complex and expensive. by an organization. pg. but the efficiency of governmental practices and the users satisfaction that one accomplished through technology. use of ICT must be strategic. 3. E-government requires a level of certainty of future funding to provide sustainability to projects. and particularly the Internet. The e-government imperative: main findings.great crisis of results and credibility that the Italian administration faces”. p. with the count of possible deviations. Belisario 2009. defines it as “user”. production and logistics. supporting processes such as R&D. In fact. 3 OECD. as a tool to achieve better government” (OECD 2003)3. E-government is explained by all the researchers (Andersen 2005. owning a website qualifies an organization as an “adopter”. Fici 2002. 1. “the strategic and operational objectives” and “in reference to the previous year. 2003. Lévy 2008) as using ICT by the public organizations. and the budget achieved”. investments in Research & Development. avoid wasting resources and gain maximum benefit from given funding levels. strategic planning. 5 . the concept of “use” implicates that the institution makes it its own. is not an end. one must pay careful attention because digitalization. 2 ICT spending.1. Assessing demand remains a major weakness in OECD countries’ e-government programmes. the organizational and individual results achieved in relation to individual objectives planned and resources. but a means of the electronic government. In the latter two cases. A central funding programme could help foster innovation and allow for key demonstration projects” (OECD.The strategic plan and the monitoring plan The second part of the analysis concerns elaborating a strategic plan by the Governments that has evaluates the objectives to be pursued (OECD 2003)4. pg. 4 “E-government implementers should articulate the impacts and benefits of a programme.makes us think of the many UE laws on e-gov . it is increasingly important to assess this demand and incorporate user feedback” (OECD. Priority should be given to the assessment of demand. 2003. expenses for ICT. We are speaking of an element that fixes its responsibility on the administrative offices and it binds them to a need for transparent monitoring. while its frequent updating or interactive use of the web site with the users.that must not be misinterpreted and handled by the administrations. internal communications. The need for this distinction comes from numerous empirical evidence that shows how many businesses in the district are involved in innovative projects without then being able to take advantage of the potentials associated with ICT. Borgonovi 2005. benefits and service quality. In this direction. is what is written in the decree law 150/2009. purchases. it might be useful to know: the technological areas. it involves “the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). art. two pragmatic documents which respectively identify. Here it is explained that in the end e-gov is not the technological progress in itself.

is part of the International Network of Public Administration (RIPA)6. based on practice and infrastructure of a well operating back office. It should be noted from the start. control and processing if information and services given to the open administrative offices that are geared towards accessing the information. like. but also for users to whom you guarantee the right to access administrative documents (OECD 2003)5. clarify data-sharing arrangements and address accountability issues. e-gov requires. lack of trust. The integration and interconnection of public networks. from leadership to employees. but must involve a deeper engagement in terms of shared customers.gov. Through the development of the integration process between the central. It.it 7 “E-government increases the need for ICT-related skills in government. pg. incompatible hardware. The management of information and data.digitpa. an ICT infrastructure was established in 2005 to ensure this coordination: it is known as the Public Connectivity System (SPC). It’s not enough. These include centralized or decentralized structure of state organizations and interaction between all governments. interoperability. the streamlining data management. In Italy. are skilled and experienced users of information and communication technologies.3. some obstacles may arise for the success of sharing data. research and data transmission. that the public administrators at all levels. interoperability and coordination between the different government departments is another fundamental element for the realization of e-gov. is at the base of the process of interconnection among the governments. When current ways of working make it difficult for agencies to collaborate. in turn. fund catalytic projects. for example. These require computer literacy and continuous updating (OECD 2003)7. This process of interconnection and interoperability of governments represents a possible solution that can help state organizations to connect among themselves. standards and frameworks. The e-government imperative: main findings. The inter and intra organizational coordination represents a great test for the current structure of e-gov. The digital services should be well mastered by those who offer them as well as 5 “Seamless government services require different agencies to work closely together. through the creation of a “one-stop shop”. traditional management skills need to be updated and strengthened to deal with the impact of e-government” (OECD. represents an important organizational element not only for the administrative offices and their internal management efficiency.Formation and electronic training In addition. barriers to co-operation need to be overcome. collaboration will also be driven by the need for efficiency. It is important to create a network of common and uniform data in which each user gives his own data report. shared infrastructure and evaluated pilot projects” (OECD. 6 . Necessary skills include a basic technical understanding (IT literacy). pg. On the other hand. 5). that this process of acquiring technological skills is for employees as well as the public administration. being able to easily collection. the simplification of work processes. 3. 2003. regional and local authorities. but also an understanding of information management and the information society. lack of resources. The benefits retrieved would be: the speed and efficiency of public services towards citizens and businesses.4 . […] Furthermore. this is how a quality jump in the organization is made: from closed and self operated offices. however.1. This is not a simple passage of data transfer from one unity to another. As services become more complex (and expensive). The skills required for e-government are not simply technical but also managerial. Data management by state authorities appears to be an internal challenge for the future of public administration.3 . 6 www. as general managers also need broad skills to engage in the ICT decision-making process. therefore. the effective use of information technology. a whole of government approach. as to quote the most important: laws on privacy. E-government co-ordinators should facilitate planning for seamless services. Several factors come into play. 5). The skills required for e-government are not simply technical.The interconnection network among governments and the back office The connection of different information systems through computer networks. Their collaboration cannot be merely technical. 2003.Yet co-ordinators must resolve a central dilemma – how can systems and information be shared with agencies still maintaining responsibility for results and operations? Approaches adopted to deal with this issue include peer reviews. The e-government imperative: main findings.1.

3. marked by the values of effectiveness. e-gov did not alter the essence of the governmental process. One must look at the services offered to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of egovernment in both countries. which today will improve thanks to info-telematic technologies. consulting catalogs of a library. information on the organization and functioning of the offices. 2003. For scholars governance always remained the same: it has not suffered automation or dehumanization. The tool that makes this strategic change possible is represented by the provision of services. is the element necessary for the fulfillment of this change. from a governments point of view.those who ask for them. publications and notices of competitions” (op. it has not changed however. The technologies contribute. it seems that nothing has changed. forwarding requests/petitions” (op. we need to pay most attention to the actors who organized all this. and online services are no different. it makes it possible for the citizens to enjoy higher quality services. The transformation of the citizen from inactive to an active and satisfied user. on the other hand. to the transfer from the bureaucratic-weberian model to the business model. and not governance: such offer of services on line has changed the structural organization of the governments. in fact. to interact with the administrative offices in an easier way and to improve the quality of their lives.). the digitalization process has permitted to carry out governmental applications in new and easier ways than before. Thus. In this first-level of micro-analysis. 7 . but also to take advantage of the services that individual administrations makes available on-line” (Belisarius 2009: 69). cit. Successful services are built on an understanding of user requirements. the existing processes. to rationalize resources. Even though the results of the opening of state offices are not always positive. especially human resources. The Internet can help achieve this goal. sports events or cultural events. on the information on the laws and regulations that are now available on-line or to the possibility that some forms can be downloaded from the Internet. which are informative services”. in this regard says: “e-gov improves services”8. e-government services must be developed in the light of demand and user value. the provision of online services should be traced back to governmental activities. due to the fact the citizens remain unwilling and demotivated. There is a need for “smart” human capital. to reduce costs to the administration. electronically. 2). in fact. considering the first terminology we can talk about great changes and transformations. in the second case. “complex services”. making payments. to obtain information of a general nature […] or to be updated on the status of ones own files. A customer focus means that a user should not have to understand complex government structures and relationships. for example. however. and to increase efficiency. by enabling governments to appear as a unified organisation and provide seamless online service.5 . In the first case we must refer to the structural dimension of the government. the interest in the computerized information in favor of the citizens finds great interest in the studies on the recent transformations of the PA. This represents a fundamental service to offer to the citizen. on one hand. E-government finds all in agreement when it states that it has resulted as an improvement at the application level. For this reason. These allow. however. to the procedural dimension. to cite some: “enrollments in schools and universities. consulting calendars. reservations and purchasing of tickets. think. but also “complex services” (Belisario 2009: 138).The provision of online services As mentioned up until this time. the e-government represents a model of government potentially better thanks to the role played by ICTs. cit. The OECD (2003). 8 “Adopting a customer focus is a core element of member countries’ reform agendas.). The instrument “par excellence” on which you can draw attention in order to test and give feedback in regards to the services offered on line is the “website”. consulting databases. When we refer to “complex services” we are referring to “a particular administrative practice” as. Public services may relate to not only “simple services. efficiency and economy. As with all services.1. as part of an overall service channel strategy” (OECD. When we refer to “simple services” we are referring to: “tourist information. Examining the second term. According to some scholars. It is “a true and real virtual window that users can turn to. pg. The e-government imperative: main findings.

here we want to investigate the relationship between organizations. the need to adopt technologies and a plan of strategic goals to which the action is directed.digital divides.transparency.The e-gov macro level: Challenges MACRO LEVEL . with the increase of the population and. atmosphere (Simon 1947). You cannot ignore the role that the external environment has on them and the impulses of individuals. things get worse. The State is no longer a natural entity. those that we read about in the previous paragraph. This generates unexpected consequences. now. This task can be only carry out by the philosopher. who studies the State through a deductive method. therefore. This link between ethics and politics is also found in Aristotle. limits and uncertainties. as did the paradigms of New Public Management (NPM) and above all of Public Governance (PG) had already foreseen by the end of the ‘90’s.(C)hacker and digital squatter 3. of the needs. as the classic weberian schools wanted. They can hope to create a rational and satisfying.A fundamental question The relation between Government and citizens insists on facing in a prior instance the fundamental question on the State-society relationship. for example. man has to choose 8 . Closed and rational organizations do not exist. responsibility. bearer of conflicting and uncertain circumstances to dominate or to coordinate. since the time of the oratory and of classical and philosophical speculation. then. however. The formal elements. Internal activities and tools provided on the basis of a rigorous action scheme. in other words. the major challenges that the government finds itself facing. in which we cannot help but to treat. Table 2 . these should be dealt with in the right way: the State interest has to coincide with the interest of the individual.1. when the management of public affairs collides with wars and internal instability.responsibility . is of ethical type. Thus. of “he who knows”. that contemplates. privacy and trust. the organizations cannot reach full rationality. of the State was a source of a debate never closed which has ancient origins. accessibility. privacy and trust . but an artificial body. or not. Much later.1 . Once the digital government has an internal structure. built by the will of men. and the external environment. The beneficial power. for the founder of the Academy. the digital divide.2. Wanting to put order. must deal with the uncertainties that inevitably occur to the organizations when these finally relate to the outside. as Barnard (1938) and the school of Human Relations had believed. According to Hobbes. when it relates with the stakeholders of the off and on-line world are: transparency. they are relentlessly interwoven with informal elements (Barnard 1938). destined to live in the polis. accessibility and e-participation. following the logic dictated by the limited rationality (Simon 1947). that go into the network.3. this ethical and divine dimension of the State is replaced by a more scientific one. now. have been described and included in the micro-level. hackering (table 2). who asserted that human nature is that of being a “political animal”. but not optimal. and a competent and prepared environment and guarantee range of services to offer to the user.2 . The State. we want to take it one step further and understand what the digital government need to face. Plato in the Republic builds already his political theory according to which the State must aim to satisfy the natural needs of man and of the community. as read in paragraph 3. According to the philosopher. to create a network of intra and inter governmental coordination. e-participation . fully realizing their mission. related to challenges.The e-gov macro system With regard to the macro level (Thompson 1967). specifically when it comes in contact with the external environment. because critical situations and tension are generated and arise frequently in front of them.

The idealist philosopher identifies the State with a “divine” body. he arouses a criticism to those producing facilities of alienation and forms of coercive powers and defines a global theory of action and of social systems concentrating on “communicative action”. but an ethical and constitutional State. the Theorie des kommunikative Handelns (1981). whose main characters. recalling himself to Adorno’s critical theory. because he has inverted the relationship with reality ascending from the concrete to the abstract. on the other side. that is individuals of civil society. however.whether he wants to live in a “state of nature”. in a state dominated by deregulation and selfish impulses. or. the only possibility for the individual to have an efficient organization. great philosopher and our coeval sociologist. thinks of the interests of only one part. in the absolutist sense. The act of communication. ending up with a generalized and uncritical approval of the existing institutions. in fact. the risk today lies in minimizing this autonomy of public opinion. Following the enlightenment approach. rather to contrast the excessive bureaucratization of this same power that hinders the critical freedom of the individual and of “public opinion”. by bureaucracy and by technology with instrumental purposes. who develope opposing thoughts (Abbagnano and Fornero 1999). on the concept of universal good. as the guarantor of this society order already constituted and self-regulated (D’Addio 1992). It is seen. in fact. becomes for the philosopher the antidote against any form of domination exercised by the economy. which ends up becoming subject to intrigue and contradictions of this era: the citizen. the primary role of the public sphere. to the point that it wants its own demolition in view of the constitution of a socialist State (Gallino 2006). however. only the state of nature could have guaranteed. reach the administrative levels. we approach. on one side. For the author of “The Capital”. in other words. the idea of society as a place where we can make possible human relationships and bonds of reciprocity between individuals. in fact. Marx accuses Hegel of “mystical logic”. The idea of reciprocity between State and civil society is still far away. the sociologist aims to emphasize that the strength of the public sphere is in the drawing of its own legitimacy from the rational society that goes and detaches itself from state authority. because State sovereignty derives from the State itself.an occasion to control his own instincts. This means that the Hegelian State is not based on individuals but on the idea of the State. because he is leaded to always legitimize reality. when Rousseau theorizes the need of “social contract”. norms and culture that free it from the logic of technique. thanks to its bureaucracy which aims to find the right combination between individual interest and collective interest. post to protect reciprocate understanding in human interaction and based on sharing values. dominated by quality criteria and conditions of freedom. following bidirectional logic. it is the State that “builds” the individuals and it is in no way tyrannical. And it is this language that allows to criticize the ideology. there is no mediator and peacemaker function that can be recognized in the bureaucratic system which. Jürgen Habermas. Habermas admits that. The philosopher of historical materialism reverses the Hegelian thought. The intent of Habermas’ speech was not intended to go against the power constituted at any cost. Contrary to Marx’s theory. which push towards the necessity to find in the State authority . stresses in his most important work. because it is a holder of supreme social morality in pursuit of the common good and guarantor of individual rights. is in danger of being constantly transformed into 9 . which has in itself its own reason for being. that could not be modified because they are intrinsically rational and positive. unlimited and not authoritarian. With Locke. need to identify and express issues of general interest that. The debate on the centrality of the state offices continues with Hegel and Marx. that. Such logical mysticism makes Hegel a “conservative” (Bobbio 1981: 189) politically. by politics. founded on the respect of its laws and on the defence of freedom. before becoming members of the State. contradicting Hobbes. in fact. Comparing himself with the weberian theory. Against the liberal thinking of Locke and Kant and the democratic idea of Rousseuian origin. which may be the solution to the problematic aspects of the current society. he stresses the need for a “substantial rationality” to which opposes a technological “instrumental rationality”. Starting from this reflection. which places limits to an authoritative and repressive state apparatus and allows happy occasions.interpreted by the scholar as sovereign and tyrannical .

the collapse of the economical and political-administrative sphere . 3. etc. A possible solution can be found in the “principle of universalization” of the norm and in the “democratic principle” of rights (Abbagnano and Fornero 1999). this could lead to demystify and desecrate the government. that even more today. threats to privacy. On one hand. and it does so still. however. such as payments. a policy focused on transparency can clash with problems such as: compliance and power issues. then. much desired by the scholar is. the guarantee of Government transparency. the right to access.2. e-gov is facing. therefore. according to which it must fulfill all the duties conferred upon it: in view of all internal activities and challenges with the environment discussed so far. The ultimate goal of these rights and principles on the data is of greater responsibility by the Governments and the fulfillment of transparency in administrative action and consequently the possibility for these institutions to obtain the confidence of the stakeholders. in the speech on the duties of public administration towards citizens. To such political cynicism inevitable corresponds a lowering of public confidence by part of the citizens. even in a digital form.that is. however. security risks in delicate operations which have to do with personal data and identity. targeted use of Internet cookies.in their daily work. factors on which Governments can invest to increase the levels of confidence. inability to interpret information. 3. referring to the Italian legislation. however. rationally active and democratic. must help to protect and make real and effective such actions.2. all the governmental authorities must motivate and account for its own conduct (OECD 2003)9. Accountability arrangements should ensure that it is clear who is responsible for shared projects and initiatives. some of these rights are: availability of public data. data accessibility. the use of 10 . access to hardware and software is checked with the use of passwords. the right to confidentiality of personal data or privacy. Use of technology. usability data. files. first we must identify the main challenges that arise between Governments and citizens. transparency and trust are the major challenges. the adoption of special procedures for transferring data such as cryptography. To do this. privacy. can be realized through the use of conscious and correct communicative skills. transparency is known as the panacea for the realization of a good government that will inspire confidence instead. At this point. forms. To jeopardize the mutual understanding among the individuals. To summarize. On the other hand. what opportunities can be provided by means of virtual environments to the development of alternative forms of sociability and identity. therefore. privacy and trust The key element upon which the administrative performance is based is the information. 9 “E-government can open up government and policy processes and enhance accountability.2 . If the initial condition was. the national and international judiciary expressed themselves by enacting some fundamental rights.“company client” and being overwhelmed by economic and mass-media logic.the so-called “worlds of life” -. There are. Moreover. in a surprising way. the outcome could be double. The habermasian idea of a public sphere. that from time to time they maneuver him. transactions and authentification of documents. we must try to understand if the State offices of the XXI century and the ICT can really encourage a progress of organizations in a democratic sense. This bitter note must not. About this data or information.Transparency.3 .in different areas of man’s social sphere . Similarly. make us forget that Habermas’ work formulates.the so-called “social systems” . notions of transparency. for example: clear writing of politics on privacy. . records. off e on-line. access and advertising on which the current legislation is based. documents. To be more clear. The public offices deal with an enormous amount of data . closely interrelated with each other.Responsibility Each Public Administration needs to move and work cultivating a strong sense of responsibility. what occasions are granted to the “cives” in their relationship with the State authority. when people are put in a position to closely view public actions.

because of the geographical position.4 . yet they also often have high levels of interaction with government. To ensure integration to knowledge society means to ensure that disadvantaged people.(C)hacker and digital squatter Internet possesses strategic and innovative resources that could offer an important contribution to democracies: speed. 11 . If these individuals cannot access e-government services. the absence of borders. of level of education and willingness. according to the clarification of Fici (2004). The administrations holds a responsible conduct if they clarify the way in which resources are used (Roberts and Scapens 1985. which allows to develop global communication flows. These practices of dispute and protest are typical of the hacker world. if one can find an ethical dimension (Pallot 1992. 10 “The digital divide impedes the benefits of e-government: Online access has advantages that are impossible to replicate offline. effort and money. homography. with the Action Plan eEurope. such as the drawing together of information. op. in Orelli et al.Digital divide. op. expansion of the wide-band infrastructures secure and widely available. The e-government imperative: main findings. etc. the introduction of technology and Internet could contribute in producing forms of discrimination among users who are able to use the digital means available to them and many others. cit. Within OECD countries. has planned a series of politics and activities aimed at seizing the new opportunities offered by knowledge society and aimed at reducing the risks of exclusion that this society may involve. 4). in Orelli et al. has provided specific measures for integration to the so-called knowledge-based society. 3). 2009). (2009) provides a significant bibliographical reconnaissance in the field of responsibility in which. the digital divide is defined as an obstacle for the full realization of electronic government and a slope on which national and international policies must work to improve the accessibility of ICT and the Internet10. they will miss out on the benefits of egovernment. However. It often happens. op. which gives the opportunity to develop a direct relation topdown and bottom-up. 2009). in pursuit of the Lisbon strategy. the lack of intermediation. increasing customer satisfaction. pg. cit. 2009). if one define the principles of accounting and reporting (Patton 1992. 2003. Already in 2002 the European Commission. production of virus. in Orelli et al. cit. The European Union. Improved online access will increase the pool of potential users of e-government services. cit. decipherments not consented of bank transactions via the web or messages sent via email. in terms of time. 2009). however. The e-government imperative: main findings. there are significant differences in access to ICTs and the Internet. on the contrary.The study conducted by Orelli et al. as to: extend the Internet connections in Europe. in Orelli et al. are not left out of technological development. cheapness. Generally the most disadvantaged have the lowest levels of access. 2005. stimulate the use of the Internet by putting the emphasis on training and consumer protection. In the 2003 OECD document on the imperatives of e-government. however. 2003. the improvement of democratic and participatory processes. This phenomenon is known as “digital divide” (Norris 2001). among other things. e-participation The mission on which Governments build their own performance regards. one can define the main elements on which scholars have aimed to define responsibility. as was said many times. interactivity. do not have this ability.2. very sensitive to this issue. which makes sure that the communication offered on the net reaches in realtime almost all individuals involved. independent search capacity and interactive policy consultation. accessibility. op. in Orelli et al. if one gives space to the needs of contradictions (Hoek et al. or better. cit.5 . “cracker”: private sector partnerships must not reduce accountability” (OECD. pg. for example: interference not agreed on in a system. open all communications networks to the adversary. 3. op. 2009). This plainly justifies that policies to reduce the digital divide be pursued” (OECD. 3. avoiding the emergence of new forms of exclusion linked to lack of computer preparation or of Internet access. netstrike. therefore. that the network potential is are abused to implement criminal actions aiming at demonstrations and not instrumental. if one measures its own performance and standards (Hood 1991.2.

in this regard. Besides being a linguistical error (one uses a basically positive term to indicate something of the opposite).: 397). radio and television (Barney 2004. theorizes the need for their merger. two possible scenarios: the first recognizes the potentials of the net and of social media with great conviction and optimism. that is. the “rational” model. Twitter. however. Carefully analyzing what is happening in the relationship between e-govenment and web 2. a great challenge for constituting an “open government”. the organizations must inevitably stipulate a contract between them and the external environment with individuals and their habits. Among their main recent achievements there are: Wikipedia.0. cit. The hackers. This. the operation of mediation more effective today may be grasped in the potentials of social media (table 3). Examples of social media are: forums. MySpace.within the last year. and the logic that governs them consists precisely in continuous conciliation of antithetical character (Bonazzi 1989: 396). who. Above all Thompson inherets Gouldner’s theory (1970). video blog. in fact.The e-gov meso system Continuing to map the empirical characterization of e-gov. by following Simon’s hypothesis. given that these tools can finally: activate a major form of participation from below and two-way communication. newsgroups. it presses on the technical core in order to receive modifications to changing external conditions (op. we finally find out in what way and by what means internal activities (Assets) and dares (Challenges) launched to e-governments can find agreements (Mediations). improve the public's trust and mediate 12 .Social media and public administrations For social media we intend the new communication technologies at low cost and able to be reached by everyone as they are not subject to state or private property and do not require skills and competencies for their usability. it is a very serious form of defamation towards all the true hacker who. regain the asymmetry in the communication between Government and citizens. From pirates to paladins or from anarchists to rebels of the web. for example. We can distinguish. the tools that pave the way towards a participatory e-government according to a bottom-up logic. etc. music-sharing. According to Thompson (1967). YouTube. and the “natural” model.: 35-34). this dual aspect represents. are individuals who often operate in anonymity and through an individualist logic and use their info-telematic skills to promote cooperative actions of activism and social disapproval for the protection and promotion of values and civil rights or digital. who already stated that there are multiple alternative of bureaucratic models. blogs. Thompson states the organizations are like oximorons soaked into reality. common people took the unhealthy habit of using the term hacker to indicate he who performs computer crimes […]. Around these tools and the application principles of web 2. it is necessary to ask whether the relationship between citizens and public administration might really suffer resolutive changes and innovation. on the other side.1 . The rational model is entered in the natural model.The e-gov meso level: Mediations MESO LEVEL Social media 3. cit. The incompatibility of these two models is resolved by Thompson. organic and interactive. straighten the irregularities that come from external sources and.3 . Table 3 . in respects to the traditional media or mass media as newspapers. on one side. Facebook.3. as mentioned. who bases his own idea on Barnard e Simon’ thought. The meso level and mediations put into the field are the object of interest in this part of the work. give too much free time to common users […]” (op.0. disciplined in a prescriptive way and with a rational strumentalization. closed. become the preferred center to activate mediation strategies and can resolve the conflicts and uncertainties identified in the previous paragraph. Castells 2006). 3.

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