Technology–Task Coupling: Exploring Social Media Use and Managerial Perceptions of E-Government

Source: Mary K. Feeney, Eric W. Welch, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print August 20, 2014
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From the abstract:
Social media comprises a set of new technologies that enable richer data exchange in highly decentralized, dynamic, and loosely structured versatile virtual environments. Social media technology is expected to enhance participation, learning, and knowledge production in government settings, aligning traditional structural and authority boundaries while also challenging them. We examine the extent to which local governments in the United States are coupling social media technology with two types of participative tasks: collaborative work inside the organization and participative interaction with external stakeholders. We also explore how these two technology–task couples are associated with managerial perceptions of the positive and negative outcomes of technology use. We use survey data from five departments—community development, finance, police, mayor’s office, and parks and recreation—in 500 U.S. cities. Findings show that social media and their use for specific tasks have limited impact on either positive or negative perceived outcomes. These non-findings may demonstrate that the implementation cost of social media technologies outweighs the managerial benefits they realize; that technology–task applications substitute for traditional approaches to the same task, but no effect is incurred; or that social media technologies are relatively new to local governments, and efforts to effectively utilize them for internal work tasks and external engagement are in their infancy.