Social Science Computer Review

Volume 30, No. 1

Spring, 2012





Approaching e-government interoperability / Mila Gascó

Abstract: E-government interoperability is not something new. However, this term has grown in importance as a result of the need to design and offer more sophisticated and complex e-government services that, many times, require the collaboration of two or more public institutions. Meaningful research on this topic could therefore be helpful in providing a basis for more clarity, insight, and understanding of this important topic. This is what this special issue is aimed at: to generate new and relevant scholarly contributions on interoperability that gather the diverse interests of an experienced set of authors, geographically distributed and with different perspectives on this issue.


E-government interoperability: Interaction of policy, management, and technology dimensions / Theresa A. Pardo, Taewoo Nam and D. Brian Burke

Abstract: E-Government continues to be recognized as a key strategy for improving government services and the effectiveness of public policies and programs. A key component of e-government initiatives is the ability of multiple government and non-government organizations to share and integrate information across their traditional organizational boundaries. E-Government interoperability represents a set of multidimensional, complementary, and dynamic capabilities needed among these networks of organizations in order to achieve successful information sharing. However, this view is complex and provides both researchers and practitioners with the challenge of understanding and developing multiple and very diverse interoperability capabilities. Researchers and practitioners alike are investing in efforts to build that understanding and to create new capability for coordinated action. Drawing on theories and research in the fields of enterprise architecture, capability maturity, information sharing, and system interoperability, the framework presented here provides unique value in both regards.


Social-political aspects of interoperability and enterprise architecture in e-government / Marijn Janssen

Abstract: Enterprise Architecture (EA) has been embraced by governments as an instrument to advance their e-government efforts, create coherence and improve interoperability. EA is often viewed as a codified understanding covering elements ranging from organization till infrastructure. It is aimed at closing the gap between high-level policies of organizations and low level implementations of information systems. Important elements of EA are a framework, tools, principles, patterns, basic facilities and shared services. EA is influenced by the social interdependencies and interactions among stakeholders in which it is embedded. Our survey among public organizations shows that current EAs are primarily product oriented, whereas socio-political aspects are often neglected. Architecture implementation also involves learning effects and requires effective communication among participants. We argue that the architecture concept should be reconceptualized and can only be effective if they incorporate relational capabilities, clear responsibilities and sound governance mechanisms.


Interoperability of e-government for building intergovernmental integration in the European Union / Ignacio Criado

Abstract: This article investigates the interoperability of eGovernment policy in the European Union (EU). Are the EU institutions building up regional integration through the interoperability of eGovernment policy? To address this issue, the article analyzes the evolution of interoperability policy-making from its inception in 1995 to date. It also outlines the principal implementation instruments deployed by the EU institutions to foster interoperability across member states’ public administrations, as well as employing a sample of key case studies to illustrate them. Results confirm the existence of an integrated approach to the interoperability of eGovernment policy fostered at EU level. They also corroborate the utilization of the open method of coordination as the governance system operating within this policy field. Finally, and more importantly, this work pinpoints the growing role of interoperability policy for advancing the regional integration process within the multi-level and multi-national governance system epitomized by the EU.


Interoperability and e-government: A legal approach to the European Union and Spanish models / Eduardo Gamero

Abstract: To achieve a significant level of interoperability in eGovernment, especially for political structures, such as federal states or the European Union, it is necessary to improve some rules concerning the eGovernment model and define a minimum standard for the different dimensions of interoperability. The legal dimension of interoperability consists on the rules concerning interoperability in a specific legal system and, so-called interoperability model. In this paper, we analyse the interoperability models of the European Communities and Spain. There are different legal models of interoperability according to four criteria of classification: volunteer or mandatory (binding), flexible or rigid, united or decentralised, and participatory or unilateral. In this paper, we describe the characteristics of each of these criteria. I defend the need to maintain mandatory frames of interoperability to the largest territorial level, whether united or decentralised. However, the ability to maintain these different mandatory frames faces several obstacles.


Electronic government interoperability: Identifying the barriers for frameworks adoption / Ernani Marques dos Santos & Nicolau Reinhard

Abstract: Interoperability is a crucial issue for electronic government due to the need of agencies’ information systems to be totally integrated and able to exchange data in a seamless way. A way to achieve it is by the establishing of a Government Interoperability Framework (GIF). However, this is a difficulty task to be carried out, due not only to technological issues but also other aspects. This research is expected to contribute to the identification of the barriers to the adoption of interoperability standards for electronic government. The paper presents the preliminary findings from a case study of the Brazilian Government framework (e-PING), based on analyses of documents and face-to-face interviews. It points out some aspects that may influence the establishment of these standards, becoming barriers to their adoption.


Cyber-security and risk management in an interoperable world: An examination of government action in North America / Kevin Quigley and Jeffrey Roy

Abstract: The Internet facilitates a level of interoperability that generates considerable innovation and opportunity. Yet threats to governments, businesses and individuals who use the Internet are increasing exponentially. This article deploys an anthropological understanding of risk in order to examine public sector action and capacity with respect to the multi-dimensional challenge of cyber-security. Our objectives are threefold: to gain a fuller appreciation of the interplay of political, technological, organizational, and social dimensions of cyber-security; to understand how this interplay is further shaped by clashing values and perceptions of risk; and to offer some prescriptive insight into the sorts of roles for government most likely to maximize systemic resilience and learning in an increasingly interdependent and virtual environment. Governments, the private sector, and civil society must engage in more shared responsibilities and collective learning in what is a highly fragile and dynamic cyberspace. 




Succinct Survey Measures of Web-Use Skills / Eszter Hargittai & Yuli Patrick Hsieh

Abstract: There is a dearth of survey instruments for measuring Internet skills. This paper presents results from additional implementations of a previously-developed index measure. It considers the performance of the original instrument over time as well as shortened versions of it on two surveys of different populations. Drawing on analyses of five different data sets, the paper makes recommendations for various length survey items for measuring people’s Web-use skills.


A social theory of Internet uses based on consumption scale and linkage needs / Jordi López-Sintas, Nela Filimon, & Maria Ercilia García-Álvarez

Abstract: We analyze the understudied relationship between social class and Internet-in-practice in the Spanish social space in order to develop a social theory of Internet use based on the concepts of scale of consumption, technological, social, and information linkage needs of individuals, and Bourdieu’s suggested homology between the social and consumption spaces. We test our theory with interdependence methods of analysis, which are a suitable methodological instrument for relating Internet uses to social structure through the concepts of scale and linkage needs. Our theory suggests that, since Internet uses are socially structured, the first-level digital divide may be reduced but will not disappear, and Internet uses will continue to differ (second-level digital divide). The theory not only explains Spaniards’ Internet use and more recent empirical findings but also proposes answers to critical contemporary social questions regarding the use of digital technologies and the digital inequality debate.