Using Social Media for Public Participation in Government Policies and Services
ALJANAHI, AYESHA ABDULNOOR MUSTAFA
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A major problem facing the UAE, as well as governments in many other countries, is how to sustain high levels of public participation. Social media and continuous innovation are becoming key factors in providing government services to gain public satisfaction and encourage loyalty. This research aims to discover the optimal applications and implementation processes involved in incorporating social media into government innovation strategies and projects. This thesis, therefore, asks two research questions. First, how do social media contribute to the success of government projects? Second, how can social media be effective in the diffusion of innovation programmes across the national culture (NC)? The empirical research reported in this thesis concentrates on five case studies which are all government or semi-government organisations, each with varying levels of experience and resources in social media. The case data were collected based on the two main research questions and ten case questions. The case issues are reported, analysed and interpreted based on the emergent themes in the empirical field, as well as compared to existing themes in the literature on social media and public participation in government. The research contains five case studies; these are Implementer, Residential, Healthcare, Education, and Media entities. From the five cases, it is clear that the concept of public participation is not yet comprehensively implemented To conclude, first, social media has the potential to contribute to the success of government projects, when local and federal government entities initiate and maintain two-way communication with the public; facilitated by skilled and qualified social media teams. Employees should be trained in different crisis management scenarios so that they can cope with the problems encountered on social media platforms. Second, for social media to be effective in the diffusion of innovation programmes across the NC, there should be a coordinating government department that specialises in innovation and recent technologies, and collaborates with social media specialists and teams. While the regional, governmental, societal and cultural context of the UAE is significantly different compared to, for example, the USA, it is concluded that there is emergent evidence from these five empirical case studies of the advantages of implementing Linders’ (2012, 2015) evolving concepts of we-government. It is recommended that future research investigates the theoretical framework of government initiatives, programmes and projects and evaluates how they use social media platforms and modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence to advance and implement government policies and services.