New article: Networks in Public Administration in PMR

CoverSheet PMR articleMy co-authors Jesse Lecy (GSU), Hans Peter Schmitz (SU) and I have published an article in Public Management Review:

Lecy, J., Mergel, I., Schmitz, H. P. (2013): Networks in Public Administration, published online DOI:10.1080/14719037.2012.743577, in: Public Management Review. [Link to pre-publication version on SSRN]

Here is the abstract:

Network-focused research in public administration has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. This rapid growth has created come confusion about terminology and approaches to research in the field. We organize the network literature in public administration using compact citation networks to identify coherent subdomains focused on (1) policy formation, (2) governance and (3) policy implementation. We trace how these domains differ in their approach to defining the role of networks, relationships and actors and to what extent the articles apply formal network analysis techniques. Based on a subsequent content analysis of the sample articles, we identify promising research avenues focused on the wider adoption of methods derived from social network analysis and the conditions under which networks actually deliver improved results.

Please email me in case you want to read the article!

New IBM report: Working the Network – A Manager’s Guide for Using #Twitter in Government

Here is the executive summary of the report:

Twitter—a microblogging service that allows for short updates of 140 characters—has grown to over 540 million registered accounts as of early 2012.News organizations, corporations, and the U.S. government have adopted this new practice as an innovative form of interaction with their stakeholders. Many government agencies maintain at least one Twitter account, and even multiple accounts, based on their operational needs and their diverse audiences .It can be unclear to government Twitter users what the best strategies are for interacting with the public on Twitter, and how an agency can use Twitter in a meaningful way to support its organizational mission.

Twitter updates are seen as public conversations and are increasing not only transparency and potentially accountability, but can also—when used appropriately—lead to increased inclu­sion of public opinion in policy formulation through information aggregation processes. Twitter can be used effectively to involve a large number of citizens and create conversations with an engaged, networked public. The outcome of these conversations can be new insights and even innovations in the public sector including suggestions on how to make government more effec­tive, or rapidly accelerating emergency responses that help to improve public safety.

This report is based on insights gained from discussions with social media directors in U.S. federal government agencies and observations of their daily Twitter tactics. Part I provides an overview of current strategies for using Twitter to interact with citizens. Four main strategies are identified:

• Push

• Pull

• Networking

• Customer service

In addition, hands-on best practices are presented for both public managers and social media administrators.

Twitter is still a relatively new tool. The platform frequently changes and features are added or moved, so government organizations need to be flexible and react to the changes. Suggestions on how to overcome both the technological and behavioral challenges are provided, and examples of best practices show how agencies have overcome these hurdles.

It will be important for the future use of social media in the public sector to show how invest­ments in content curating and online interactions affect a government organization. Current measurement techniques are provided to help social media managers create a business case for the effective use of social media.

Academic networking & social media

I recently presented my ideas on why academics should tweet and blog too at a symposium at Syracuse University called “Tenure Track Dream Team”. A little over 140 students who are currently on the job market attended the day – about 8-10 were actively using Twitter and 2-3 tweeted during the conference.

I focused my talk not so much on the technology (“You have to use it!”), instead I decided to think about what kind of networking ties academics need in early stages of their career and what usually drives human interaction. My advice for the students was to get out of their comfort zone: They need diverse network ties, so that they will hear about job opportunities (Granovetter’s research on weak & strong ties); they also need to maintain their local ties for future collaborations, but reach out into their global network, so that people are aware of their work and thereby bridge different parts of their network (Watt’s idea of creating small networks and reach across your local, dense ties).

I suggested to them that social networking services are a way to create, maintain and nurture their academic ties. I am using Twitter to understand who belongs to the network of people writing and talking about my research field. I tap into ongoing conversations and contribute when I have something to say. Twitter is a great resource to test and promote early findings or generally hear about hot and new topics. I also use it to understand how practitioners in my field talk about the issues. I started conversations and consequently was able to invite guest speakers to my classes. Moreover, Twitter is a great tool if you can’t attend a conference – someone will always tweet about what is going on or in which room the best presentations are going on.

In addition, I suggested to the students that blogs are a great way to bridge the 140 letters limitation of Twitter and point people to longer posts and links to publications. I suggested to think about individual blogs or content-area blogs that can be easily maintained by several people who are all working on similar topics. The latter lowers the individual publishing/writing pressure and the workload can easily be divided among several people.

RSS feeds as an integral part of blogs, but also all kind of other frequently updated parts on a website, are a great way for academics to sign up for table of content updates of their favorite journals.

We also had a good conversation about publishing cycles, open commons and publishing rights. Syracuse University has just started an “open commons” for working papers called “SURFACE” that shapes up to be a great vehicle to publish early results.

Here are my slides:

Update: Link to the video with my keynote address titled “Social Media for Prospective Faculty: Why Academics Should Blog and Tweet, Too!

James Fowler on the Colbert Report

James Fowler talks about the strong influence of social networks and how they affect our lives:

<td style='padding:2px 1px 0px 5px;' colspan='2'James Fowler
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

A Call for Papers on Twitter networks at the 2010 Sunbelt Social Networks Conference

At the 2010 International Sunbelt Social Networks Conference, to take place at Riva del Garda, Trento, Italy, from June 29 to July 4, 2010, we intend to organize a session on Twitter networks. We are looking for papers with empirical evidence using the social networking and micro-blogging service Twitter.com. Twitter has become one of the most prominent publishing channels of short messages during the last year and caught our attention as network researchers. We would like to initiate a session on how network researchers use the public conversations observed on Twitter and how they capture, analyze and interpret Twitter networks.

Potential contributors should also note that at the Sunbelt conferences series, final (written) papers are not requested to be submitted: just abstracts suffice. However, all submitted abstracts of the proposed papers will be reviewed by the INSNA organizers (and not by the session organizers), who may also decide on the format of the paper presentation (as lectures of 20 minutes or posters of 60 minutes). In any case, since we would like to coordinate the Twitter networks session, potential contributors in this session are free to contact us before the end of November 2009, as the deadline for submission of abstracts of contributed papers is December 1, 2009 now January 15, 2010. Nonetheless, the abstract submission should be done by the contributors themselves who should complete the Submission Form here. Since the name of the session “Twitter networks” is not listed in the Session field of this Form, applicants should insert it in the “New Session” field.

Session initiators:
Ines Mergel, Maxwell School at Syracuse University, NY
Moses Boudourides, Department of Mathematics, University of Patras, Greece
Lothar Krempel, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Germany
Marc Smith, Connected Action Consulting, Belmont, CA

Book: Influence of social networks on the adoption of eLearning practices

On a personal note: Just designed the cover of a new publication. My dissertation (from 2005) will be available in a print-on-demand version soon.

An increasing number of public institutions of higher education are realizing that there is a need to integrate innovative technologies into their curricula in order to enable students to access and review academic content anytime and to connect with each other outside of the classroom. Many public institutions of higher education have recognized this need and are in the process of introducing new practices in order to meet changing market conditions. These practices are generally referred to as eLearning practices. Besides the intended outcomes of digital student support and access to teaching content, applying eLearning practices and integrating them into the traditional existing teaching routines challenges an organization in multiple ways. The aim here is to show the factors influencing this adoption decision process. To gain a deeper understanding of the patterns and success factors of the adoption of eLearning practices, a social network perspective was applied to the process through which innovative technologies adopted by faculty members.

Reference:

Mergel, I. (2009): The influence of social networks on the adoption of eLearning practices: Using social network analysis to understand technology diffusion and adoption decision, Lambert Academic Publishing, Cologne, ISBN 978-3-8383-1083-1.

Marines: Immediate ban of Social Networking Services (- or not)




Marines: Immediate Ban of SNS

Originally uploaded by Ines Mergel.

The Marines are no longer able to access social networking services. The following graphic shows the official statement published online and in all capital letters:

THESE INTERNET SITES IN GENERAL ARE A PROVEN HAVEN FOR MALICIOUS ACTORS AND CONTENT AND ARE PARTICULARLY HIGH RISK DUE TO INFORMATION EXPOSURE, USER GENERATED CONTENT AND TARGETING BY ADVERSARIES. THE VERY NATURE OF SNS CREATES A LARGER ATTACK AND EXPLOITATION WINDOW, EXPOSES UNNECESSARY INFORMATION TO ADVERSARIES AND PROVIDES AN EASY CONDUIT FOR INFORMATION LEAKAGE THAT PUTS OPSEC, COMSEC, PERSONNEL AND THE MCEN AT AN ELEVATED RISK OF COMPROMISE. EXAMPLES OF INTERNET SNS SITES INCLUDE FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, AND TWITTER.

At the same time, DoD and the U.S. Strategic Command are discussing weather they should restrict or ban social networking services ]. You can join the discussion on the Army Live blog (which will also be block for internal access in case the ban will come through) or on Twitter with @USArmy:

Read the full story on Wired.com by Noah Shachtman: Marines Ban Twitter, MySpace, Facebook

Here is the response of @thejointstaff (Adm. Mike Mullen):

Update (August 7, 2009): See NextGov article: “Marines and Social Nets: We Goofed” => Not sure what to believe… Marines seem still be allowed to use social media on their personal accounts. But they are reinforcing to ban “access to social Web sites on Defense networks to conserve bandwidth for operational requirements.”

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra: Five-Point Plan

Vivek Kundra’s  Five-Point Plan on which the administrative agenda will focus on was published in Government Technology:

  1. Open and transparent government.
  2. Lowering the cost of government.
  3. Cyber-security
  4. Participatory democracy
  5. Innovation

I am especially curious how Kundra and his colleague Beth Noveck will accomplish point 4 and what kind of tools they will use to increase participatory democracy.

I visited the Open Government Committee of New York State today and am very impressed with their accomplishments over the last 35 years.

White House “Open for Questions”

The wrap up of Obama’s first online town hall meeting are now posted on the White house blog’s section “Open for Questions“. From the Blog:

92,937 people have submitted 103,978 questions and cast 1,782,650 votes

Here is the video in which he explains how he wants to use online town hall meetings as tools to increase citizen participation: