New article: Agile government: Systematic literature review and future research

Bildschirmfoto 2018-05-11 um 07.04.42Together with Yiwei Gong and John Bertot, I edited a special issue for Government Information Quarterly on agile government. For our introduction, we conducted a systematic literature review of articles published on the subject during the last decades and provided guidance for future research.

Abstract

Governments need to adapt to changes in their internal and external environments and create systems that allow them to scan trends, identify developments, predict their potential impact on the organization, and quickly learn how to implement changes to their standard operating procedures. As a response, government organizations are adopting agile approaches as part of their process redesigns, project management, and software development approaches. Although agility and adaptiveness are long in use in the private sector, they have been increasingly adopted in the public sector literature and practices. In order to understand the existing theoretical and practical foundations of the field, we have conducted a systematic literature review and identified four streams of research areas:

(1) software development approaches,

(2) project management approaches,

(3) application areas, and

(4) potential outcomes.

In this article, we synthesize this literature, provide an outlook on future research questions, and introduce several articles as part of the current special issue focused on agile government.

We included four articles in the special issue that focus on different themes of agile governments:

  1. Hong and Lee’s (2018) article provides evidence of how regulation and decentralization impacts adaptive governance. The authors argue that decentralization of governance can hinder the process of adaptation in the sharing economy, especially if the considered policy embodies entrepreneurial politics.
  2. Wang, Medaglia, and Zheng’s (2018) article investigates adaptive governance in the context of digital government where new forms of collaborative governance are needed to rapidly adapt to changes in the internal and external environments.
  3. Soe and Drechsler (2018) discuss how local governments collaborate for joint service provision, be more adaptive toward new technological and organizational changes, and introduce innovative services following industry trends such as predictive analytics, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence.
  4. Chatfield and Reddick (2018) show how a U.S. city government’s use of big data analytics enhances customer agility in 311 on-demand services.

Reference: Mergel, I., Gong, Y., Bertot, J. (2018): Agile government: Systematic literature review and future research, in: Government Information Quarterly, 35(2):xxx-xxx.

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A timeline of national digital service team start-ups

National governments are creating digital service teams at an accelerated speed. I have written about their approaches, team compositions, and outcomes in a report published by IBM’s Center for the Business of Government last year and expanded on it in this interview. My report mostly focused on the U.S. Digital Service Team and 18F, and highlighted some of the practices of the Danish Agency for Digitisation and its Mindlab, as well as the UK’s Government Digital Service and Team Digitale in Italy.

Since I published the first report, additional service teams were created in 2017: the Canadian Digital Service, Finland’s D9 team, and New Zealand consolidated its IT operations into one new agency, Digital.Govt.NZ.

TimeLineDigitalServiceTeams_2018

New article published: Agile Innovation Management in Government: A Research Agenda

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-8-00-37-amI wrote a paper based on my interviews with CTOs and digital service innovators in the U.S. federal government. The goal of the paper is to bring together the elements that lead to innovations in digital service delivery. I contrast traditional software development processes with elements of an agile innovation management approach. The result is a research framework and research questions for future explorations:

Abstract
Governments are facing an information technology upgrade and legacy problem: outdated systems and acquisition processes are resulting in high-risk technology projects that are either over budget or behind schedule. Recent catastrophic technology failures, such as the failed launch of the politically contested online marketplace Healthcare.gov in the U.S. were attributed to an over-reliance on external technology contractors and failures to manage large-scale technology contracts in government. As a response, agile software development and modular acquisition approaches, new independent organizational units equipped with fast reacting teams, in combination with a series of policy changes are developed to address the need to innovate digital service delivery in government. This article uses a process tracing approach, as well as initial qualitative interviews with a subset of executives and agency-level digital services members to provide an overview of the existing policies and implementation approaches toward an agile innovation management approach. The article then provides a research framework including research questions that provide guidance for future research on the managerial implementation considerations necessary to scale up the initial efforts and move toward a collaborative and agile innovation management approach in government.
Reference: Mergel, I. (2016): Agile Innovation Management in Government: A Research Agenda, in: Government Information Quarterly, 33(3), pp. 516-523.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2016.07.004.