Educators' guide to iGovernment working papers
The guides below provide a set of student questions that deal with both synopsis and development of the ideas presented in the online 'iGovernment: Information, Systems, Technology and Government' papers. It is intended that both papers and questions are circulated to students prior to class, and then answers are presented and discussed in class.
The papers can be used for a variety of modules including: Information Systems; ICTs & Society; IT & Globalisation; IT Policy; Technology and Development.
- Some of the questions are overlapping and it is suggested that educators be selective in their choice of question.
- The papers and questions are intended primarily for postgraduate programmes but can also be used on the later years of undergraduate programmes.
- In using these papers for class teaching, educators must acknowledge both the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, and the paper author(s).
- What is public sector reform and why does it happen? [part 1]
- What is accountability in a public sector context? [part 2]
- What impact do information and information technology have on accountability in the public sector? [part 3]
- What determines the impact of information technology on accountability: the technology itself or something else? [part 4]
- Why do we seek greater accountability of public servants?
- What needs to be done to increase accountability in the public sector? Does IT have a role to play? If you are familiar with a particular public sector organisation, relate your answer to this organisation.
- IS IT causing more harm than good in the public sector?
- In what ways can government use the Internet? [part I]
- What environment and policy issues affect government use of the Internet? [part II]
- Who should we involve in planning government Web sites? [part III]
- Identify one particular public sector organisation. Make recommendations for that organisation on Web site design and strategy. [parts IV & V]
- Why is Internet usage growing so fast?
- What benefits and what dangers can the Internet bring to citizen-government interaction?
- Use the criteria and rating scales described in section IV to evaluate a different set of government Web site.
- What is a decision support system and what benefits can it bring? [part 1]
- What is the IDSC and what does it do? [part 3]
- What value have decision support systems brought to the Egyptian public sector? [parts 2 & 4]
- Provide a one-page report for a senior public manager on best practice in DSS implementation. [parts 5 & 6]
- How would application for DSS be different in other countries: would there be similar benefits; would there be similar implementation challenges and barriers?
- What dangers are there in the increasing automation of government decision making?
- If you are familiar with a particular public sector organisation, identify what role - if any - DSS could or do play in that organisation.
- What is corruption? Does it need to be controlled? [part 1]
- What impact does IT have on corruption? [parts 2 & 3]
- What determines the impact of IT on corruption: the technology itself or something else? [part 4]
- Is corruption a universal problem or one confined to certain countries and sectors? Check any assumptions you may have made about the location of cases 1-5.
- Can IT stop corruption? Can IT cause corruption?
- What needs to be done to reduce corruption? Does IT have a role to play? If you are familiar with a specific example of corruption, you can relate your answers to that example.
- Is IT likely to be a tool of repression or of emancipation in the hands of government?
- What are monitoring and control systems? What are management information systems? What is the relationship between the two? [part A]
- What information does a management information system produce in its reports? What benefits can this information bring to managers? Are there any additional benefits from computerising the MIS? [part B]
- What types of MIS are used in the public sector? [part C]
- Provide one further example of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes from an organisational system.
- Are there particular problems in measuring outputs and outcomes of public sector organisational systems?
- What would be the pros and cons of automated decision making?
- Can you suggest any drawbacks of MIS computerisation?
- Do information systems have to involve information technology? Justify your answer with evidence and examples.
- If you are familiar with a public sector organisation:
- a developing country software company
- a developing country government
iGov 6: Information Age Reform of the Public Sector: The Potential and Problems of Information Technology for India
- What is information age reform? [part A]
- What role do information and information technology have to play in public sector reform? [part B]
- Has information age reform in India been largely successful or largely unsuccessful? In either case, explain why. [part C]
- What can be done to improve the success rate of information age reform? [part D]
Would the findings be different for countries other than India?
- What factors, other than the attitudes and actions of senior public officials, contribute to failure of information systems initiatives in the public sector?
- Provide one other real-world example of each of the 4Is approaches.
- Can IT drive public sector reform, or can it only enable public sector reform?
- If you are familiar with a public sector organisation, which one of the 4Is approaches dominates in that organisation? Would you wish to move to the 'integrate' approach? If no, why not? If yes, how would you do this?
iGov 7: Centralised vs. Decentralised Management of Public Information Systems: A Core-Periphery Solution
- What responsibilities face a typical public sector information systems manager? [part A]
- What are the benefits, constraints and disadvantages of a centralised approach to IS management? [part B]
- What are the benefits, constraints and disadvantages of a decentralised approach to IS management? [part B]
- What is the core-periphery approach to IS management? [part C]
- Does the core-periphery idea provide public managers with a new approach or just a new name for old problems?
- What would be the likely benefits, constraints and disadvantages of a core-periphery approach to IS management?
- Are current trends moving more in favour of centralised, decentralised or core-periphery approaches in most public sector organisations?
- What, in practice, determines the type of IS management approach adopted by a public sector organisation?
- If you are familiar with a particular public sector organisation, make recommendations about which approach it should take to IS management. Justify your recommendations.
iGov 8: Information Management, IT and Government Transformation: Innovative Approaches in the New South Africa
Michael Kahn & Russell Swanborough
- How and why is the South African state transforming itself? [part A]
- What are the current deficiencies of information systems in the South African government? [parts A & B]
- What is the Swanborough Information Grid and what are its potential benefits? [part C]
- What is the Request for Solution procurement method and what are its potential benefits? [part C]
- How might information systems issues in other countries be similar to and different from those in South Africa?
- Which is more important in government: information or information technology? How can each contribution to government transformation?
- If you are familiar with a public sector organisation, would the Swanborough Information Grid and the Request for Solution method be applicable in that organisation?
- Is it better to have a centralised or a decentralised approach to information systems in government?
Richard Heeks, David Mundy & Angel Salazar
- Why do health care information systems succeed or fail? [all parts]
- Do health care information systems mainly succeed or fail? [part A]
- What are the archetypal conception-reality gaps? Why do they arise? [part C]
- Does imposition of rational information systems help or hinder health care organisations? [part C]
- How could you improve the success rate of health care information systems? [part D]
- Are the seven ITPOSMO dimensions truly 'necessary and sufficient' to explain information systems change in organisations?
- Identify a fairly detailed information systems case study, for example from the health care sector. Apply the ITPOSMO/conception-reality model. Does the model help to explain success or failure of this IS?
- Can you envisage other archetypal conception-reality gaps that might affect the health care information systems domain or the broader information systems domain?
- Identify other explanations for information systems success and failure. How do they compare with the model presented in this paper?
- Identify other recommendations for increasing IS success rates or decreasing IS failure rates. How do they compare with the recommendations presented in this paper?
- If you are familiar with a health care (or other) organisation, which, if any, of the part D recommendations would be feasible and desirable in that organisation?
- What different views do governments hold about public sector data? [part A]
- What resources do citizens require in order to access government data? [part B]
- What is the 'digital divide'? What are its dimensions? How are governments attempting to close it? [part B]
- What is 'freedom of information' legislation? How does it vary between countries? [part C]
- What other resources do citizens need in order to make use of government data? [part D]
- Can IT solve problems of citizen access to and use of government data?
- Will the digital divide ever be closed? In the most wired countries, should governments more focus more on the majority who have IT access or on the minority who do not?
- In the UK Public Records Office, some of the oldest data is that from William the Conqueror's Domesday Book, recording England's national assets in the late 11th century. Over 900 years later, it can still be accessed and read. What fate awaits government data being recorded electronically today? What should government do about this?
- Analyse freedom of information legislation in relation to the access factors outlined in parts A and B.
- Imagine you are running a community development programme. How much of a priority would you give to data access and to IT access initiatives?
- What is e-governance? [part A]
- What benefits can e-governance bring? Illustrate your answer with two or three case examples; preferably not those within the paper. [parts B & C]
- What chronological developments are apparent in e-governance? [part C]
- What challenges does e-governance face? [part D]
- How might such challenges be addressed? [part E]
- Should we see e-governance as just encompassing Internet-based processes or as encompassing use of all ICTs in governance?
- How credible are the case studies presented - do they represent independent, long-term, detailed evaluation or something else?
- e-Governance and e-government: what's the difference?
- How would this paper differ if it was entitled 'Understanding e-Governance in America'?
- Imagine you are contributing to an e-governance initiative. What will it be more important to understand: governance or ICTs?
- How might you measure e-readiness in quantitative terms?
- Identify other explanations for ICT project success and failure. How do they compare with the model presented in this paper?
- What key objectives and principles underlie a National e-Governance Initiative ? [part A]
- What is a National e-Governance Initiative? What might it consist of? [part B]
- What key issues need to be considered in planning a National e-Governance Initiative? [part C]
- What is presented in the paper - a process or a blueprint?
- If you wanted to promote the concept of 'i-governance', how would you go about it?
- Imagine you are charged with organising a National e-Governance Summit. What would you actually do? Include consideration of how exactly you would convince senior officials and politicians to support e-governance.
- Are vendors part of the problem or part of the solution vis-a-vis e-governance for development?
- Review the content of some donor-funded e-development programmes. Is it fair to say that they have ignored government?
- What e-governance priorities would you set for pilot projects, and why?
- What evidence can you find to support the need for hybrids? How could you create hybrids for e-governance?
- In developing a proposal for e-governance, is it better to be optimistic or realistic?
- Why are African governments undertaking public sector reforms? [Introduction]
- In what ways can e-government contribute to public sector reform in African countries? [part A]
- In what ways is e-government in African countries similar to, and in what ways different from, e-government in industrialised countries? [parts A & B]
- Why is e-government diffusing only slowly in African? [part B]
- Why do most African e-government projects fail? [part B]
- How can the problems of e-government in Africa best be addressed? [part C]
- What specific problems do African governments face? Can e-government address these problems?
- Can you provide alternative explanations (alternative to design-reality gaps) for the failure of so many e-government projects in Africa?
- Discuss or debate the following proposition: "Failure of e-government projects is just as much a problem in industrialised countries as in African countries."
- Is investment in e-government projects in Africa an inappropriate use of funds?
- Is it either helpful or valid to try to generalise about e-government projects across a whole continent?
- How true a picture of ICT use in Africa is portrayed in industrialised countries?
- Do egovernment-for-development projects mainly succeed or fail? Is failure a problem? [part A]
- Why do egovernment-for-development projects fail? [part B]
- What can you do to reduce the risk of failure on egovernment-for-development projects? [part C]
- Explain the relative success of the Epidemiology Service project in design-reality gap terms. [part D]
- Are egovernment-for-development projects more or less likely to fail in developing countries compared to industrialised countries? Explain your answer.
- Identify an online egovernment-for-development case study. Apply the design-reality gap model. Does the model help to explain the success or failure of this project?
- Is there just one design in an e-government project? Is there just one reality? What are the implications of your answers for the design-reality gap model?
- Identify other explanations for e-government information systems success and failure. How do they compare with the model presented in this paper?
- Identify other recommendations for increasing e-government project success rates or decreasing failure rates. How do they compare with the recommendations presented in this paper?
- If you are familiar with a public sector organisation, which, if any, of the part C recommendations would be feasible and desirable in that organisation?
- What is the nature and impact of e-government as technology transfer? [part A]
- Explain the relationship between e-government technology and context. [part B]
- In what ways can e-government designers be external to the context of use? [part B1]
- What impacts can be caused by conflicts between the context of design and the context of use for e-government applications? [part B2]
- What factors determine whether there will be conflict and failure, or accommodation and workable systems when contexts of design and use are different for an e-government application? [part C]
- What practical, and what academic, steps should we take in response to the 'contextual collisions' that can occur with e-government systems [part C1]
- Are the notions of inscription and contextual collision just academic waffle, or do they have some practical implications of value?
- Identify other explanations for e-government success and failure: how do they compare with the ideas presented in this paper?
- What could be done to encourage e-government practitioners and researchers in rich countries to learn lessons from case studies in developing/transitional countries?
- Identify a fairly detailed e-government case study (ideally, one with which there is direct experience). Analyse it to draw out the implicit and explicit inscriptions. Where did those inscriptions come from? Do they match or mismatch user realities? What conclusions do you draw?
- Identify a fairly detailed e-government case study (ideally, one with which there is direct experience). Analyse the networks of interest that are driving and resisting the e-government application. How has each network group attempted to influence the process of design inscription?
- Imagine you are working on an e-government project in an OECD country setting, where the designer is from the IT department. What practical recommendations would you make on the basis of reading this paper?
- Identify two cases of e-government failure, and two cases of e-government success. Assuming they are detailed enough, or drawn from direct experience, analyse the way in which there was contextual conflict, or contextual accommodation in each case. Do your findings match those of the paper?
Richard Heeks & Savita Bailur
- Describe the way in which past e-government research was selected and analysed. [part A]
- What are the different viewpoints on technology outcomes represented in e-government research? [part B]
- What are the different research paradigms/philosophies represented in e-government research? [part C]
- What are the different types of theory represented in e-government research? [part D]
- What are the different research methods represented in e-government research? [part E]
- What are the different types of recommendation represented in e-government research? [part F]
- What should be done to improve e-government research, and what constraints are there on implementing such improvements? [part G]
- Are there other ways in which you could analyse past e-government research?
- What is your own/the class' viewpoint on technology outcomes and causes? How might your viewpoint affect any research you do on e-government?
- Why do you think positivism explicitly or implicitly dominates so much e-government research? Do other perspectives - such as social constructionism - have much to offer?
- Notwithstanding what is said in the paper, can theory really make any useful contribution to e-government?
- Is research method really an issue worth worrying about in relation to e-government?
- Why has there been such a growth of research publications about e-government? Is this growth a good or bad thing?
- What do you/the class feel are the priority e-government topics to research over the next five years?
- Explain the link between good governance and ICTs in the area of fiscal reform. [part A]
- Summarise the key ideas within Actor-Network Theory. [part B]
- Summarise the history of public expenditure management information systems in Sri Lanka from an actor-network perspective. [part C]
- What criticisms can be made of ANT as a theoretical framework for understanding e-government? [part D]
- Can good governance policy prescriptions be universal? Are the terms "accountability" and transparency" culturally-specific?
- If a successful e-government project is delivered on time and within budget meeting the technical needs of a core group of users, does it matter that the wider informational needs (e.g. of civil society) are not being considered?
- Is investment in e-government programmes in developing countries an inappropriate use of the loan funds available to the international financing institutions (IFIs)?
- Analyse the power politics at play in the Sri Lankan case study. What power did the IFI have in ensuring its investment was being used as intended? What measures could the IFI have taken to ensure its objectives relating to improved governance were being met?
- Analyse the role of the technology in the networks formed during the implementation of the Sri Lankan public expenditure management information systems. Was the software an active or a passive participant?
- What difference would having a senior Programme Director in place throughout the implementation period have made to the success of this e-government programme? Should he/she also be involved in the design phase?
- How does a socio-technical theory, such as Actor-Network Theory (ANT) provide a different perspective that is useful in the analysis of an e-government programme?
- Identify another longitudinal e-government case study and apply Law and Callon's network analysis of technical change model. Does the model help to explain the success or failure of this project?
- Identify the key purpose and audience for e-government benchmarking, including any geographical and chronological variations. [part A]
- Outline the key decisions that need to be taken in relation to what to benchmark. [part B]
- Outline the range of methods that can be used for benchmarking e-government, and issues and purposes associated with those methods. [part C]
- Summarise key good practice in the reporting of e-government benchmark studies. [part D]
- Identify the likely personal/political/economic interests of those undertaking e-government benchmarking, which might determine their internal purposes.
- Does anyone take notice of e-government benchmarking reports - are they really worth doing?
- How would benchmarking e-government be different from benchmarking other information systems?
- Why do so many benchmarking studies focus on PC/web-delivered citizen-related e-services at national level?
- Identify a specific e-government application in a real public agency. Trace out the e-government value chain for that application. What indicators could and would you use to benchmark the application?
- Identify a specific e-government application in a real public agency. Develop at least two operationalisable public value indicators for this application.
- Select five key recommendations for improving e-government benchmarking. What barriers might there be to implementation of those recommendations? Can you identify ways to try to overcome those barriers?
- Select an e-government benchmarking report, and subject it to the evaluation questions listed in Appendix B. What do you conclude?
Richard Heeks & Rita Santos
- What is the conceptual framework used in this paper? [Part A].
- What research methodology was used, and why? [Part B].
- What is the institutional history behind the SIOPS system? [Part C].
- What actions were taken to try to enforce adoption of the SIOPS system, and what impact did these have? [Part D].
- What insights do the ideas of institutional systems and dualism offer? [Parts E & F].
- What practical recommendations for e-government adoption flow from the paper and its models? [Part F].
- Make a list – either from your own knowledge or from a quick literature review – of factors that might lead to low usage levels of e-government systems. Does the paper offer any additional insights?
- Identify a rich and detailed case study of e-government implementation. Can you see relevance of any of the paper's main ideas: principals and agents; one-, two- and three-party enforcement; institutional systems and dualism?
- Does this case study have specific features of a developing country that would not be found in an industrialised country e-government case study?
- Is the notion of institutional dualism too simplistic to be of value? Does that explain why it has not been more widely adopted?
iGov20 – Analysing e-Government Project Failure: Comparing Factoral, Systems and Interpretive Approaches
- Explain why it is important to analyse e-government project failure. [Part A].
- Summarise the content and criticisms of the three main categories of diagnostic approach: factoral, systems and interpretive. [Part B].
- What are some of the main differences between the three main categories of diagnostic approach: factoral, systems and interpretive? [Part C].
- Which of the diagnostic approaches did the author apply to her e-government research project, and why? [Part D].
- Why is it valuable to have a theorised approach to understanding e-government failure? [Part E].
- Is there an absolute measure of success / failure? What is the difference between e-government project failure and the failure of other government infrastructure investment projects?
- With the high failure rates associated with information systems projects, is investment in e-government an inappropriate use of the loan funds available to the international financing institutions?
- How do we 'learn from failure' on e-government projects? What are the potential feedback loops?
- How does an interpretive socio-technical theory provide a different perspective that is useful in the analysis of an e-government project?
- What approach would you use if analysing a case of e-government failure?
- Review two or more other cases of e-government project failure and the types of diagnostic approach adopted. How did the author's conceptual taxonomy assist you in identifying and comparing the differences in the researchers' academic points of view?
Kristof Kessler, Nils Hettich, Chadley Parsons, Craig Richardson & Anny Triana
- Explain the interconnection between e-government and privacy. [Part A].
- Summarise the purpose and dimensions of the framework for assessing privacy readiness of e-government and how the dimensions contribute to fulfilling the framework's purpose. [Part B].
- Summarise the application of the framework to the case examples and what implications can be derived for the cases in particular. [Part C].
- How does the framework relate to the work of academics and practitioners at the intersection of privacy and e-government? [Part D]
- Is there an absolute measure for privacy attainment in e-government? Which role could cultural and personal aspects play?
- Is the selection of case examples justified? Elaborate on which case characteristics could strengthen or weaken the arguments made, respectively.
- Which critical aspects of privacy readiness in e-government are not addressed by the framework and why? Which currently-addressed aspects can be considered non-critical and why?
- Are there other applications of the framework beyond privacy readiness? If so, which areas could the framework cover; why and how?
iGov22 –Steering e-Government Projects from Failure to Success: Using Design-Reality Gap Analysis as a Mid-Implementation Assessment Tool
Lemma Lessa, Solomon Negash & Mesfin Belachew
- How big a problem is e-government project failure, and why does it happen? [Part A]
- What is the case study e-government system? [Part B]
- What is the design-reality gap model, and how was data gathered to feed into the model? [Part C]
- Where were the main gaps between design and reality, and what should be done to address them? [Parts D & E]
- What were the critical success factors underlying this project? [Part F]
- From your own experience, or evidence you can gather from literature: is e-government failure as much of a problem as portrayed in the paper?
- Why do you think most e-government project analysis is done after completion (post hoc) rather than mid-implementation (durante hoc)?
- What other tools could be used to analyse an e-government project mid-implementation?
- How and when would you use the design-reality gap framework if you were managing an e-government project?
iGov23 – Understanding e-Government Failure from an Actor-Network Perspective: The Demise of the Thai Smart ID Card
Ping Gao & Panom Gunawong
- What knowledge gaps exist in literature about e-government in developing countries? [Section B]
- What are the key ideas within the moments of translation approach in ANT? [Section C]
- What was the main timeline for the Thai Smart ID Card project, and how was it researched? [Section D]
- Summarise the translation shortcomings in the project. [Section E]
- What conceptual and practical conclusions can be drawn from the case study? [Section F]
- Was the Thai Smart ID Card project more of a technical or social failure?
- Does the described approach to ANT provide new insights that other conceptualisations do not, or just a different way of structuring standard insights?
- What alternative conceptual frameworks could you have used to analyse this case study?
- Is e-government failure a really widespread problem, or just restricted to a few massive, over-ambitious projects?
- Given there are many studies that summarise the lessons of e-government failure; why do those involved with e-government projects so often seem to fail to learn or apply those lessons?