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How far can a local government go to reach a non-bureaucratic level?

Literature review and a case study

Leonidas Anthopoulos

Business School, TEI of Thessaly

Internet-based government has been evolved since its initial appearance in early 1990s and today various achievements can be accounted, which are so called electronic or e-government: online public information and services; automated transactions; social media usage by governments for citizen engagement or so-called Gov.2.0; government open data and dashboards that enhance transparency; online public consultations that enable social participation; e-procurement systems etc. All the above are only some of the so-far e-government outcomes, which however are questioned with regard to their potential in terms of success and acceptance, since recent studies demonstrate that citizens still prefer traditional channels for their access to their governments.

To this end, it is really interesting to question whether all the above achievements are steps towards a future government generation, where non-bureaucratic processes will be performed, which will be mainly streamlined via the information and communications technologies (ICT). In an attempt to approach this question, this paper focuses on a city administration, where e-government activities are supported with smart city projects too, in an attempt to enhance smart government in an urban space. More specifically, this paper aims to answer the following research questions:

RQ1: what are the frameworks that a local administration can utilize in an attempt to eliminate bureaucracy?

RQ2: how far can a local administration go with the existing e-government and smart city utilities in its future government path?

The first question RQ1 is crucial to be answered, since various efforts focus on bureaucratic decrease in governments, but it is not clear whether they can or they have been classified. Even if they have, it is important for a local administration to be aware of them in a systematic matter, which is aimed to be illustrated for the purposes of this paper. The second question RQ2 is also very important to be answered, since, it is important for a local government to know how existing barriers and drivers have impacted the outcome of the application of both e-government and smart city utilities to a future government form, where bureaucracy will be completely or partially eliminated.

Literature review and case study research methods will be utilized in the proposed paper. More specifically, publications on e-government journals will be investigated with regard to drivers and barriers against bureaucracy elimination, as well as for frameworks against bureaucracy, suitable for local administration will be analyzed for the purposes of RQ1. Moreover, the case study of Trikala, in Greece, which was awarded as the first Greek smart city in 2003, will be investigated in an attempt to answer RQ2. This case study will be explored with regard to the application of any of the identified frameworks. Moreover, the effect of smart city utilities with as extra drivers, as well as the effect of fiscal crisis on bureaucracy’s elimination as an additional barrier to all the existing identified ones, will be depicted.

This paper will be structured as follows: section 1 will concern an introduction to the problem and the research questions. Section 2 will contain a literature review for this paper’s purposes, which will both ground the size of the identified problem and will aim to answer this paper’s questions. Section 3 will present the case study, in an attempt to answer this paper’s questions. Finally, some conclusions and future thoughts will be presented.