Policy Informatics Book Chapter: Knowledge Incubation in the Public Sector – Ines Mergel

Policy Informatics Book Chapter: Knowledge Incubation in the Public Sector – Ines Mergel.

I am participating in a book project that is featured over on the “Policy Informatics” blog. Here is the abstract for my chapter to be published in 2012:

The use of social media applications has become acceptable practice and is adopted by many government agencies. Public sector organizations are experimenting with the use of Facebook pages to represent their agency, Twitter for short updates, Wikis for collaborative co-production of content, YouTube and Flickr to share and incorporate videos and photos, online contests and challenges to access innovative ideas and solutions from government’s diverse audiences, or collaborative practices on virtual worlds such as Second Life. The main strategy of current observable use of social media applications is targeted toward broadcasting and educating government’s audiences – pushing information out, instead of actively integrating innovative knowledge extracted out of interactions on social media channels.

Managing the influx of innovative knowledge that flows into government and between government agencies through social media channels has posed unsolvable challenges for government. It is unclear how knowledge provided by the public is incorporated into new policies, change perceptions of citizens about the degree of responsiveness, accountability or transparency of government, or otherwise impact the effectiveness and efficiency of government’s standard operating procedures. What prevents the incorporation of innovative knowledge into government are two main barriers: First, the current information paradigm formulated in form of press-release style communication missions prevents active incorporation of innovative knowledge. Second, information vetting processes are not designed for bi-directional knowledge flows. This chapter provides insights into effective knowledge incubation mechanisms that emerged in some selected pockets of government. It highlights measurement mechanisms for effective knowledge incubation of each of the social media channels and innovative initiatives are presented.

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

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