Chadwick (2011) - Explaining the Failure of an Online Citizen Engagement Initiative. The Role of Internal Institutional Variables

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Chadwick, Andrew (2011): Explaining the Failure of an Online Citizen Engagement Initiative. The Role of Internal Institutional Variables. In: Journal of Information Technology & Politics Vol. 8 (2011) No. 1, 21-40.

problem

Which internal, institutional variables are explanatory for the failure of a promising online citizen engagement initiative? How do these findings stand in contrast to common academic discourse concerning online participation, pointing out a lack of sufficient data from the inside of relevant institutions?

method

  • explorative case study
  • in-depth, semi-structured interviews and group discussions
  • interviewees/participants: administrative, legal, political and technology staff


summary

Common research strategies (see 22-23) neglect institutional dynamics due to the complex interdependency of internal actors’ attitudes/shared meanings/resources/interactions/decisions. The findings suggest that this complexity is hard to be overcome by a single actor. Even in very favorable environments. Important institutional factors leading to project failure have been amongst others: Lacking political support, lacking organizational power and integration of administrative and technological staff responsible for the project, perceived legal risks or lacking alignment with other policies. Furthermore, these variables have different influences on online engagement in particular compared to e-government in general. In sum, future research should focus on internal variables as they explain to a large degree why online engagement succeeds/fails.