Public Administration Review article: A Three-Stage Adoption Process for Social Media Use in Government

Together with my co-author Professor Stuart Bretschneider I wrote an article that was just published for early view in the Public Administration Review (PAR). In this article, we develop a model of social adoption in the public sector. Here is the abstract:

Social media applications are slowly diffusing across all levels of government. The organizational dynamics underlying adoption and use decisions follow a process similar to that for previous waves of new information and communication technologies. The authors suggest that the organizational diffusion of these types of new information and communication technologies, initially aimed at individual use and available through markets, including social media applications, follows a three-stage process. First, agencies experiment informally with social media outside of accepted technology use policies. Next, order evolves from the first chaotic stage as government organizations recognize the need to draft norms and regulations. Finally, organizational institutions evolve that clearly outline appropriate behavior, types of interactions, and new modes of communication that subsequently are formalized in social media strategies and policies. For each of the stages, the authors provide examples and a set of propositions to guide future research.

Full reference:

Mergel, I. and Bretschneider, S. I. (2013), A Three-Stage Adoption Process for Social Media Use in Government. Public Administration Review. doi: 10.1111/puar.12021

Our paper won the Emerald Group’s Citations of Excellence winner 2016 award!


Your (online) social network predicts your shopping behavior

Not a very new concept, but it seems that the advertising industry adopts the “Birds of the Feather… buy together” concept now. It’s interesting that very traditional social networking concepts, such as peer pressure, preferential attachment, etc. Studies on who to target to effectively spread rumors in networks have lead the way for effective online marketing – the open question is: how can marketers identify those influential hubs in the network? What if they want to use online social networking services to target specific groups? The number of contacts does not necessarily mean that people are also influential or are perceived as beeing important exchange partners – “harvesting” all potential contacts and randomly “friending” as many people as possible, are not necessarily indicators for successful social influence.

What happy people do… socialize…

I just read in the NYT about a study based on data collected from 45,000 Americans to understand what kind of activities people do who are happy. It turns out: they socialize – instead of watching TV. Not a big surprise, but again something that needed proof.

Connected to this: I had lunch with one of my new colleagues today and we were discussing the impact of social networking services on the creation, maintenance and increase of one’s own social capital. Now, most of the studies done so far seem to focus on the fact that spending time online takes away time from face-to-face interactions.  And spending time online is therefore seen as an “unsocial” activity. Our hypothesis is that interactions online (probably connected with some initial face-to-face contact) have the ability to actually increase our social capital: more informal interactions, higher frequency of interaction, which would otherwise not happen, due to busy schedules, obligations, work, etc.

Obama’s Science, Technology and Innovation plan

The Obama/Biden Science, Technology and Innovation plan is up on and fascinating to read – it focuses on true Web 2.0 elements to engage citizens in the process of solving problems.

Using the wisdom of the crowds, elements of collaboration, social networking to connect citizens with each other, online deliberation elements and create a more transparent government by opening up the federal government.

Although most of the statements are still on a fairly general and unspecific level, the promise behind an open, transparent and connected government is clearly stated. Judging from the tools and the openess of the presidential campaign, this should be a success as well.

I am looking forward to find out who will be elected as the first CTO (Chief Technology Officer). We have some very innovative federal CIOs – pick one of them who already is an innovator. includes a link to “Of the people, By the people” button through which everyone is invited to submit their ideas.

Web 2.0 applications of the presidential campaign and beyond

1. Election night behind-the-scenes pictures on Flickr: Obama & family

2. Barack Obama on Twitter

3. The presidential blog

4. Facebook applications, including iphone application, causes application, “donate your status” application, “I voted” application, etc.

5. Official Youtube videos used on