Skip to main content
Sustainability for eGovernment
Sustainability for eGovernment
Thursday, November 1, 2012, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m
Location: CTG, 187 Wolf Road, Suite 301, Albany, NY 12205

In eGovernance (eGov) research and practice the notion of complexity is becoming increasingly important. This complexity has to do with calls to break down the borders between public institutions, as well as between public and private sector. Furthermore the complexity has to do with the rapid technological development, changing expectations and demands from businesses and citizens as well as the pressing nature of global issues which are not contained within the traditional administrative borders of the national state. There is a need, it is often argued, to move away from the rigid silos of public organizations, and utilize the opportunities of technology to transform governance. Another issue, relating to this complexity, is the sheer number of eGov projects. Several initiatives, ranging over short periods of time to a number of years, have lead to great expenses and a large number of failures. There is a lack of continuity in the development of eGov, partly due to discon nected project and partly due to a lack of long term perspective on the governance and evolution of public sector use of ICTs. Furthermore, several researchers and practitioners have started to question what values that actually drive this development. In order to understand this complexity and how to deal with it a holistic perspective is needed.

Recent research has suggested the sustainability concept as an approach to understanding eGov from a holistic and future-oriented perspective, arguing that sustainability is a central aspect for eGov success. From a sustainability perspective success would imply eGov that allows “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs "(The Bruntland Commission, 1987). In this presentation I will discuss the notion of sustainability not as a goal but a continuous process of dynamic interactions. This means that eGov is not viewed as a process moving towards a goal of unification and consensus. Instead change and complexity is central, due to dynamic interactions with an environment that includes a multitude of different actors. During the presentation I will briefly present my previous research into the governance issues in Swedish public sector interoperability efforts. I will also present my ongoing analysis of the sustainability concept in extant eGov research, and the issue of sustainable eGov versus eGov for sustainability. From this I invite you to discuss potential ways forward of eGov from a sustainability perspective. My intention is not to provide answers, but to provoke what kind of questions we really should be asking.
Hannu Larsson
Hannu Larsson is a researcher and teacher at Örebro University, Sweden, active in the field of eGovernment within the discipline of Informatics/Information Systems. Since September 2008, he has been employed as a PhD student and part-time teacher. His research focus is on organizational aspects, such as governance issues and coordination of eGovernment interoperability work.