Note:  The author is a member of the PhD-programme “Online Participation”, supported by the North Rhine-Westphalian funding scheme “Fortschrittskollegs”.
Abstract: Local public administrations around the world are facing the challenge of introducing e-participation, but the cultural and institutional aspects of the e-participation innovation process have not been researched extensively. This dearth in research can inhibit our understanding of how and why e-participation succeeds, fails or develops in certain contexts. Thus, we apply two concepts from organizational institutionalism to determine how e-participation in local public administrations is influenced by and influences the organizational and institutional context. Institutional logics help us to describe and analyze the complex institutional context, and institutional work assists in focusing agency aimed at but also embedded in this institutional context. The research, which includes results of a multiple case study of three local German public administrations, finds that three role identities in regard to e-participation can be distinguished: entrepreneurs, pragmatists, and skeptics. These identities develop in relation to administrators’ positions in e-participation processes and evolve as actors engage strategically in the innovation process through institutional work on e-participation practices at the individual, project, and organizational level. We thereby generate insights into the specific perspective of central actors in the e-participation innovation process (i.e. administrators).
Keywords: e-participation, institutional logics, institutional work, public administration, local government, innovation, institutional complexity