My research focuses on e-government, that is, on the
intertwined processes of information and communication technologies (ICTs)
development/implementation, and of public sector reform. Within such a broad
field, my research questions the impact of ICT on public sector organisations
and on the nature of their activities. More precisely, it addresses questions
related to: (a) the proper frameworks to study the impact of ICT on the creation
of “public value”; (b) e-government as a barrier to political change; and (C)
risks, implications and outcomes of public sector outsourcing.
By and large, the e-government literature has drawn either on theoretical frameworks developed to study the impact of ICTs on private sector organisations, or on frameworks, such as New Public Management (NPM), that look to private sector practices to provide guidance for public sector reforms. My research, by focusing on the study of the public and political dimensions underpinning e-government reforms, questions these approaches by looking at e-government policies as mainly political decisions. The study of the political dimension of e-government projects has often been relegated to the background of mainstream e-government research which, instead, mainly focuses on the short-term evaluation of economic and organisational outcomes associated with the adoption of ICTs in public sector organisations. However, political drivers are deeply intertwined with the deployment of e-government projects. My research explores how e-government projects shape different governments’ political reforms.
By so doing I research how e-government policies crystallize political values in technological deployment. E-government projects are carriers of contingent political intents designed into ICT functions to change both the nature and the process by which public services are provided. Once these functions are deployed, they are very difficult to change because of technological path dependencies and standards stratification, for example. Consequently, ICTs carry political interests that endure not only because they are enacted in social, institutional, and organisational practices; but also because they are designed and embodied in technological systems. This raises challenging questions regarding the political implication of e-government strategies on future political reforms.
My final strand of research examines public sector outsourcing policies. Outsourcing in the public sector, especially in USA, Europe and Australasia, has mainly considered marketization of public sector activities as the solution to administrative inefficiency and bureaucratic failure. By calling for a re-assessment of the impact of outsourcing on public sector bureaucracy and on the “public values” they reflect new research opportunities emerge. Conceptual and empirical perspectives are needed to question one of the prevailing and growing practices in contemporary public sector management.