Initiating e-Participation Through a Knowledge Working Network

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Abstract

The authors present a study of e-participation within a public sector agency (PSA), where a number of knowledge management initiatives have been introduced since the inception of the UK ‘Modernising government’ programme of 1999. The agency has attempted to set up an internal participatory infrastructure to manage ‘knowledge’ across the network of local enterprise companies through which agency policy is operationalised. The trajectory of knowledge management versions in PSA is thus a rich indicator of power-plays in the organisation, and the discussion uses discourse analysis to explore the document base (field notes, textual data paper and electronic, formal and informal) that was produced at three historical moments. The aim is to understand patterns of participation and resistance in a number of e-initiatives within the agency. The authors highlight the choices relating to the stimulating, fostering, encouraging, embracing, contesting, ignoring, and perhaps rejecting of this e-participation project. Such insights are important to our understanding of the influences upon e-governmental initiatives, an area of UK public spending that is littered with IT project failures.