My name is Ana and I’m from Portugal. Last year, I completed an MSc in Information Management in Sheffield University’s iSchool, and during my dissertation project I discovered some gaps regarding the knowledge and nature of Knowledge Management (KM) practices in eGovernment projects.
I recently began PhD research aimed at identifying and conceptualizing knowledge sharing efforts across organisational boundaries (mostly departmental), in the management processes necessary to develop innovative eGovernment applications at a local level. By the end, I hope to be able to develop case studies, which identify good practice. These can hopefully provide an interpretation of knowledge phenomena that can help to support future eGovernment projects in UK councils. (I don’t have a matured research question yet! But good things come with time, right?)
The study will take place in British municipalities that are in the initial stages of developing benchmark eGovernment applications (this being the common ground for my case study approach). The choice of UK municipalities was simple! The UK is a pioneering country in local level eGovernment, due to the 2005 pledge (ODPM, 2003). However, in a recent eGovernment benchmark exercise from the European Commission (Capgemini, 2009), the country was placed only 7th in terms of the availability and sophistication of its electronic services, and user take-up did not reach the 50% mark.
The literature argues that results are due to organisational challenges, which in turn derive from the socially constructed nature of Public Administration (PA) knowledge and its encompassing conflicts. These include, amongst others, conflicts between services’ priorities and cultures (these set PA apart from the Volunteer Sector, as was discussed in the session). There are some case studies already published that consider KM in the PA, but they reflect mostly on governance and technical issues.
Having recognised this opportunity for relevant empirical research I am now seeking to collaborate with a varied sample of municipalities, and to engage on qualitative data collection by using: structured observation, official documentary material and, at a later stage, interviews. Because of the challenges involved in working with municipalities, which need to account for issues such as time, hierarchical decision-making, public interest and privacy protection, I will keep in mind some tips suggested during the meeting. Then, after the data analysis stage, I will come again and talk a bit more.