Abstract: This article is concerned with developing a theoretical approach to understanding agendas for information age government, such as that set out in the British Government’s recent document, government.direct. It begins with showing why government.direct implies radical institutional change based on more flexible information flows less constrained by organizational boundaries. It then assesses the value of two prominent responses to the challenges offered by government.direct. It deals firstly with the problems posed by managerialist calls for reengineering the processes of government and then discusses the growing interest in ‘governance’, defined here as ‘the management of self‐governing networks’. It argues that, to…be truly helpful in understanding the demands of agendas such as government.direct, networking approaches to understanding governance must be refocused from a concern with policy level relationships between political actors onto issues involved in the merging of organizational and informational capabilities, capabilities which are, moreover, deeply embedded in existing institutional arrangements. The article concludes by suggesting a possible approach to analyzing the politics of information in government.
Abstract: “Public Computer Systems” (PCSs) are systems used in client–organisation encounters. The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework for discussing PCSs as tools in client–organisation communication. To that end, a three‐level analysis scheme for client–organisation encounters (COEs) and the potential role of PCSs as change agents for those encounters is suggested; the object level, discussing the elements of COEs, the functional level, discussing the role of PCSs as a tool for achieving changes in the functionality of the client–organisation interface, and the strategic level, discussing COE paradigms. It is concluded that PCSs provide an important new…focus for IS studies because they may be used to design new social fora and make for changed roles of clients and professionals, thus affecting the terms of the societal dialogue. It is suggested that the public sector has a special responsibility for this dialogue, and that therefore strategic level analysis, largely ignored so far, should be added to the agenda of public sector information system issues.