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Social Media as Sociomaterial Service: On Practicing Public Service Innovation in Municipalities
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6636-055X
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Governments are in need to innovate public service. They struggle with complex societal problems, decreased citizen trust and the work of adapting to new demands related to how service should be delivered to fit contemporary living. Inspired by success stories from the private sector's "open innovation" approaches, governments are complementing internal competence with knowledge resources of external actors such as citizens. One increasingly growing strategy for knowledge expansion beyond government boundaries has been to use social media platforms, e.g. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This strategy has been shown to be especially effective at a local government level (henceforth municipality) where citizens are geographically close to the government and where government manages activities that citizens rely on in their daily lives.

Despite an expansive rise of social media use in municipalities, and efforts to see beyond a traditional and New Public Management approach to public service, there is little knowledge about the participatory and innovative capacity of social media in a government context. This knowledge gap is reflected in researchers' and municipal administrators' uncertainty as to how to make use of social media for improvement of public service and how to handle tensions about what is possible to do with social media and what is legitimate to do as a public servant.

The aim of the thesis is thus to map, unpack and conceptualize social media practice by municipal communicators to understand how tensions and dynamics between social media mechanisms and government rationales are shaping the practice and how new emerging practices can be understood as public service innovation. The research questions of the thesis are: RQ1: How are social mediamechanisms supporting different public service rationales?; RQ2: How is public service enacted in the social media practice by municipal communicators?; RQ 3: How can social media practice by municipal communicators be understood as public service innovation?

With an engaged scholarship research approach, related research on social medialogic, e-government, e-governance and digital public service innovation, and with the help of the theoretical perspectives "service innovation," "practice perspective" and "sociomateriality," the thesis contributes extended insights into how social media platform mechanisms support different government rationales in processes of sociomaterial service, and how such practice can be understood as creative processes towards public service innovation.

As a practical contribution I propose that both communicators and managers in government engage together in networks of others working with social media and to discuss for instance the mission of the government in relation to the aim of using social media, what tensions arise in the social media practice and why, and how algorithms are shaping the social media practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2019. , p. 95
Series
PhD Thesis: University West ; 26
Keywords [en]
Social media; Municipalities; Communicators; E-government; Participatory government; Engaged scholarship; Service innovation; Practice perspective; Sociomateriality
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13351ISBN: 978-91-88847-19-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88847-18-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13351DiVA, id: diva2:1274072
Public defence
2018-01-18, F104 Albertssalen, Trollhättan, 12:55 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Delarbeten som inte är publicerade finns ej med i posten för avhandlingen

Available from: 2018-12-27 Created: 2018-12-27 Last updated: 2019-01-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Balancing the Social Media Seesaw in Public Sector: A Sociomaterial Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Balancing the Social Media Seesaw in Public Sector: A Sociomaterial Perspective
2017 (English)In: IRIS Selected Papers of the Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia, ISSN 1891-9863, E-ISSN 2387-3353, no 8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The use of social media in the public sector changes the professionals' everyday work practice. This paper sheds light on the emerging challenges of using social media as a part of work, based on the analysis of three contexts within the public sector in Sweden and through the lens of sociomateriality and affordances. The approach is interpretive field studies with a narrative analysis, where we interpret and analyse key elements of the storylines, focusing on the transition to social media use among professionals (nurses, municipal communicators, and physicians) in the three contexts. Social media enables an open work environment where information is visible and potentially spreadable to an unknown audience. The process of interacting with an unknown audience and finding a professional tone is analysed here as context collapse. The unknown, and at times imagined complex audience, makes it hard to balance the seesaw between friendliness on the one hand and an authoritative tone on the other; a tonality which leaves most of the potential audience unreached. The interplay between social media and the professionals shapes the professionals' practice. We analyse this interplaying practice more specifically, as sociomateriality in action.

National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics; Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13350 (URN)
Conference
IRIS 40, Østfold University College, Halden, Norway, August 6th - 9th 2017
Available from: 2018-12-27 Created: 2018-12-27 Last updated: 2019-05-21Bibliographically approved
2. Efforts at the boundaries: Social media use in Swedish municipalities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Efforts at the boundaries: Social media use in Swedish municipalities
2016 (English)In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743, E-ISSN 1611-3349, Vol. 9821, p. 123-137Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social media is used by the majority of Swedish municipalities. However, the highly interactive features of social media are often not taken advantage of. The study aims to get a better understanding of why social media is not used to its full potential in the municipality. Findings from an interview study with communicators in three Swedish municipalities reveal that the motivation for using social media is often difficult to turn into action. Tensions emerging in the use of social media result in hesitation, uncertainty and a slowing down of work practice. The processes of managing the tensions are characterized by boundary crossing between different communities, such as municipal communicators, elected officials and citizens, with social media itself as an equally important actor. The processes of boundary crossing by the municipal communicators are discussed in terms of learning processes and new emerging competences that might redefine the role of the municipal communicator and hence perhaps the public servant in general. © IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2016.

Keywords
Artificial intelligence; Computer science; Computers, Boundary crossing; Communicators; E-participation; Municipalities; New competence; Public servants; Social media, Social networking (online)
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-10363 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-45074-2_10 (DOI)2-s2.0-84984916643 (Scopus ID)
Conference
8th IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference on Electronic Participation, ePart 2016; Guimaraes; Portugal; 5 September 2016 through 8 September 2016
Available from: 2016-12-20 Created: 2016-12-20 Last updated: 2018-12-27Bibliographically approved

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