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Best Practices in E-Government

Best Practices in E-Government
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Author(s): Helmut Druke (Capgemini Germany Ltd., Germany)
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 13
Source title: Electronic Government: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko (University of Tampere, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch254


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The pressure of modernization does not stop at national boundaries—in this respect it is universal and secular. In some regions of the world the pressure of change is particularly extreme (e.g., in Eastern Europe) where the transformation of the administration from a state socialist to a democratic institution is taking place under the enormous time pressure of complying with the new national and international standards and catching up with the global economy. Another example of a country in transformation that is extremely interested in studying best practices is China where a more efficient public administration is required to support the newly installed market economy whereas e-democracy is no issue at the moment. In view of this starting point for the universal pressure of change and reform, the responsible decision-makers are often eager to model the direction and implementation of their reforms on the best local communities. The high level of interest in the results of various benchmarking studies among local community representatives stems from this pressure and a great uncertainty about the future of public administration. Actors and experts throughout the world agree that learning from and transfer of good practices internationally can contribute to the goal of global co-operation in e-government, which is a priority of the World Summit on the Information Society. In its Action Plan, the participants of the World Summit defined as an important action to “support international cooperation initiatives in the field of e-government, in order to enhance transparency, accountability and efficiency at all levels of government” (WSIS, 2003). In its “Communication” of September 26, 2003 on “The Role of E-government for Europe’s Future” (European Commission, 2003) the Commission of the European Communities stresses the huge benefit of initiating an exchange of good practice. Best practices encompass technological, organizational, legal, and training elements, they require long-term commitment of all key actors involved, and they illustrate tangible benefits and results. Exchange of experience and replication of best practices can bring cost-savings in moving to broad take-up. It also prepares for future interoperability and interworking between administrations. (p. 21) The following discussion aims to introduce a theoretical approach which avoids the limitations of the dominant transfer theories of the “one best way” (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1989; Ohmae, 1990; Womack, Jonas, & Roos, 1990) on the one hand and “path dependence” (Arthur, 1994; Freyssenet, Maier, Shimizu, & Volpato, 1998; Leipold, 1996; Pierson, 1998) on the other hand, and which creates a perspective for practical action in e-government. Whereas the one best way theory regards the adoption of superior concepts as the royal route to overcoming existing inadequacies, the theory of path dependence sees hardly any possibility to adopt solutions from other national environments—it considers that the bonds of the decisions of the past and inherited structures are too strong. Therefore, a clear understanding of the opportunities and limits of best practice orientation and adoption gives a clear orientation of what way to go in increasing organizational performance. The basic question is if it is advisable and feasible to adopt practices of a well-performing authority by a less-performing authority in the public administration. Before presenting empirical material on the question of what a good practice in e-government consists of it is feasible to discuss on a theoretical level principle problems with the concept of best practice.

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