research links w 12- 17


Politically marginalized groups have less access to the internet, worldwide. This shocker based on network measurements over 8 years and identification of politically relevant groups as defined by the Ethnic Power Relations (EPR).

The relationship between online and offline activism is messy, according to a survey of 1023 adolescents from five Balkan countries, while a year-long study in Uganda and Kenya documents ways that citizen-generated data can be used to improve service delivery and policy, but finds that relationships matter, and that measurement is hard.

Why governments implement e-participation: Governments are most willing to implement e-participation schemes when they enjoy strong ICT infrastructure and human capital, according to a review of archival data from 153 countries (pulled from UN E-Gov surveys and the World Bank’s Development and Governance Indicator sets from 2010-2012). Most interestingly, quality of governance did not positively correlate with willingness to implement e-participation, and the authors suggest that advocates should accordingly push for better ICT infrastructure and human resources, “to move up the ladder of e-government maturity.” Also worth noting, willingness to conduct e-consultations was the only form of willingness negatively associated with e-government maturity. On this last point, the authors speculate is because governments are afraid that consultative processes will slow down e-government processes.

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Why do governments do civic tech and open government? (a mini lit review)

The civic tech and open government community spends a fair amount of energy persuading government counterparts to get in the game, measuring how well they do, and encouraging them to do more and better. There seems to be based on a general assumption that doing so works best when appealing to government incentives, either to make their work easier, to increase their legitimacy or to get on the right side of national and international norms. But what does the literature say?

Well, as usual, it’s complicated. Scholarly work looking at why governments pursue civic tech, open government, open data, e-participation and other such programming is as diverse as one might expect. It’s spread across a number of disciplines and uses a variety of methods, and lots of careful distinctions should be made between studies on the incentives, motivations, boosters, enabling factors and predictors of government engagement. I’ll refer casually to “incentives” for “civic tech” in order to keep this brief, but the distinctions do matter.

As per usual, the literature seems to be dominated by case studies, and there’s a lack of comparative empirical or synthetic work. This likely because the field of study is relatively new, but serves as a general point of caution when drawing conclusions. As usual, I’ve pasted formatted references with links below the fold. A lot of the links bump into paywalls, but I’m happy to facilitate access to the articles if you drop me an email. Continue reading “Why do governments do civic tech and open government? (a mini lit review)”

research links w40

Papers / Findings

  • Squeaky wheels get the grease.  Analysis of policy crowdsourcing for urban planning in California uses natural language processing to show that (1) whether or not citizen contributions are included in policy depended on their “volume and tone,” (2) that the contributing crowd was more representative of the community than elected representatives contributions, and (3) that NLP analysis still requires a lot of human effort.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities project released a conference paper claiming to assess data use in 67 participating smart cities. They find that (1) government leaders are constrained, (2) stated commitment is the “strongest indicator of overall performance,” and that (3)  doing well in one area correlates with Continue reading “research links w40”

Research Links w 39

Papers and Findings

Research Links (w25-28/16)

4 weeks’ worth, yikes. #summer


Citizen Engagement FTW!
The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory just released a “virtual issue” on citizen engagement, collecting the most important articles with that focus in that journal since 1995, to make some sense of how citizens actually engage with governance across the policy cycle. The editors’ take on the compilation is compelling and there are some real gems in the articles, such as those demonstrating how citizen expectations influence participation in public service accountability initiatives. Crudely summarized, some of the findings suggest that:

Continue reading “Research Links (w25-28/16)”