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Research Discussion
Iceberg Ahead: On Electronic Government Research and Societal Aging

Dr. Björn Niehaves, Schumpeter Fellow, Volkswagen Foundation; CES-Visiting Scholar, Harvard University; Assistant Professor, European Research Center for Information Systems
Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Ten years ago, Peterson (1999, p3) warned that “[g]lobal aging, like a massive iceberg, looms ahead.” Government budgets have already been hit hard by a simultaneous increase in governmental spending and a decline in tax revenue related to a growing share of the elderly to the total population. While almost all industrialized countries can expect an aging population and resulting budget stress, the implications of the graying of society for a “graying of E-Government initiatives and budgets” are not readily apparent and therefore constitutes a subject worthy of investigation. Despite the increasing importance of this issue for E-Government in practice, there remains a clear need to assess our understanding and reflection of the phenomenon.

Dr. Björn Niehaves will give a brief introduction into the topic, an overview of ongoing research projects, and present the results of a recent study on the phenomenon. He will discuss whether a) E-Government research presently provides adequate theory, vocabulary, and methods for investigating into societal aging and b) the extent to which future E-Government research is potentially able to contribute to tackling the substantial theoretical and practical challenges related to societal aging.

His research has pursued a multi-method approach in terms of sequentially applying a retrospective literature review (12 journals, vol. 2000-2009) and a prospective Delphi study (involving 24 E-Government experts). The results suggest that there is currently a significant gap between actual and potential E-Government research on societal aging. He will also discuss the implications for future E-Government research and describe potentially fruitful ways of bridging the prevailing gap between theory and practice.

Dr. Björn Niehaves
Since 2009, Björn has been Schumpeter Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation and visiting fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Working as an assistant professor at the European Research Center for Information Systems, Muenster University, he heads the public sector research unit. After the completion of his PhD studies in Information Systems (2006) and his PhD studies in Political Science (2008), Björn’s research interests now revolve around Business Process Management, E-Government, Network Theories, and ICT & Aging. In 2006 (Best Dissertation Award of Muenster University), 2007 (Best Paper Award at EGOV), and 2008 (Best Paper Award at E-SOCIETY), his work has received additional recognition. Björn has published in international journals (including Information Systems Journal (ISJ) and Business Process Management Journal (BPMJ)) and presented at international conferences (for instance, International Conferences on Information Systems (ICIS)). Since 2008, he serves as the associate editor of the European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS).