An Overview Assessment of ePetitioning Tools in the English Local Government

  • Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos
  • Christopher Moody
  • Tony Elliman
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6847)


According to legislation introduced in 2009, all English local authorities were expected to implement an online petitioning facility by the end of 2010. This mandate offers a unique opportunity to assess the impact of a national eParticipation policy at such scale focusing on a particular engagement tool. A web content analysis methodology was used to collect data from the 353 English local government websites. Different variables measuring the implementation of this initiative were explored, including evidence of other eParticipation activities such as online consultations. The data were then cross-examined with institutional background factors such as political affiliation of the leading party. The study results question whether the legislation actually achieved its purpose since they indicate apparent efforts of minimum institutional compliance and low actual use of ePetitions. Among others, population density and previous experience with eParticipation were positively correlated with the implementation effort and actual use of those systems.


ePetitions UK local government Web content analysis Impact assessment Institutional factors eParticipation adoption eParticipation policy 


  1. 1.
    Chadwick, A., May, C.: Interaction Between States and Citizens in the Age of the Internet: e-Government in the United States, Britain, and the European Union. Governance - an International Journal of Policy and Administration 16(2), 271–300 (2003)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dawes, S.S.: The Evolution and Continuing Challenges of E-Governance. Public Administration Review 68(1), 86–102 (2008)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fountain J. Bureaucratic Reform and E-Government in the United States: Bureaucratic Reform and E-Government in the United States: An Institutional Perspective. In: Chadwick, A., Howard, P.N. (eds.) The Handbook of Internet Politics, 1st edn., pp. 99–113. Routledge, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Macintosh, A., Coleman, S., Schneeberger, A.: eParticipation: The Research Gaps. In: Macintosh, A., Tambouris, E. (eds.) Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on eParticipation, Linz, Austria, September 1-3. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Van de Graft, P., Svensson, J.: Explaining eDemocracy development: A quantitative empirical study. Information Polity 11, 123–134 (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Medaglia, R.: Measuring the Diffusion of eParticipation: a Survey on Italian Local Government. Information Polity 12(4), 265–280 (2007)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pratchett, L., Wingfield, M., Polat, R.K.: Local Democracy Online: an Analysis of Local Government Web Sites in England and Wales. International Journal of Electronic Government Research 2(3), 75–92 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    UK Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act, (accessed March 15, 2009)
  9. 9.
    Gelders, D., Brans, M., Maesschalck, J., Colsoul, N.: Systematic Evaluation of Public Participation Projects: Analytical Framework and Application based on two Belgian Neighborhood Watch Projects. Government Information Quarterly 27(2), 134–140 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gronlund, A.: Emerging Electronic Infrastructures: Exploring Democratic Components. Social Science Computer Review 21(1), 55–72 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pratchett, L., Leach, S.: Local Government: Selectivity and Diversity. Parliamentary Affairs 56(2), 255–269 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Panagiotopoulos, P., Al-Debei, M.: Engaging with Citizens Online: Understanding the Role of ePetitioning in Local Government Democracy. In: Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: An Impact Assessment, St Anne’s College. University of Oxford, Oxford (September 2010)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Whyte, A., Renton, A., Macintosh, A.: e-Petitioning in Kingston and Bristol: Evaluation of e-Petitioning in the Local e-Democracy National Project (2005)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Macintosh, A.: Characterizing E-Participation in Policy-Making. In: Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (2004) Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Carman, C.: The Process is the Reality: Perceptions of Procedural Fairness and Participatory Democracy. Political Studies 58(4), 731–751 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Miller, L.: E-Petitions at Westminster: the Way Forward for Democracy? Parliamentary Affairs 62(1), 162–178 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lindner, R., Riehm, U.: Electronic Petitions and Institutional Modernization. International Parliamentary E-Petition Systems in Comparative Perspective. eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government 1(1), 1–11 (2009)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jungherr, A., Jürgens, P.: The Political Click: Political Participation through E-Petitions in Germany. Policy & Internet 2(4), 131–165 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    EuroPetition Project, (accessed March 15, 2011)
  20. 20.
    Herring, S.C.: Web Content Analysis: Expanding the Paradigm. In: Hunsinger, J., Klastrup, L., Herring, M.A. (eds.) International Handbook of Internet Research, 1st edn., pp. 233–249. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bauer, M.W.: Classical Content Analysis: A Review. In: Bauer, M.W., Gaskell, G. (eds.) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image, and Sound: a Practical Handbook, pp. 131–151. SAGE, London (2000)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Office for National Statistics (2011), (accessed March 20, 2011)
  23. 23.
    Lowndes, V., Pratchett, L., Stoker, J.: Local Political Participation: the Impact of Rules-In-Use. Public Administration 84(3), 539–561 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Anduiza, E., Cantijoch, M., Gallego, A.: Political Participation and the Internet. Information, Communication & Society 12(6), 860–878 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos
    • 1
  • Christopher Moody
    • 1
  • Tony Elliman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Information Systems and ComputingBrunel UniversityWest LondonUK

Personalised recommendations