Core Research Programme 2018-19

  • Digital Transformation and Innovative Technologies for a Sustainable Development of the Public Sector

    UNU-EGOV is a multidisciplinary organization of scholars interested in, and dedicated to, the study and examination of the development and impact of “digital governance and government” (Electronic Governance or EGOV) in order to propose sound policy-driven research. EGOV fosters the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and other new technologies to enhance and support public operations and policies, citizen involvement and participation, develop sustainable cities, and provide an inclusive public service.

    Such as private industries, the public sector is investing and using more and more analytics, mobility, emerging technologies, social media, and smart devices to transform their comprehensive service delivery. These are changing the external relationship with citizens and other stakeholders, as well as the internal business processes and operations to take benefits of the new technological capabilities. However, while digital transformation presents new opportunities, it also creates new challenges.

    The core research programme (CRP) for 2017-2019 examines new digital challenges and key elements of digital governance, and analyses how the public-sector designs, governs, and monitors their digital transformation. It has been designed in compliance with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has been prepared to meet them, both directly and indirectly. The CPR is titled “Digital Transformation and Innovative Technologies for a Sustainable Development of the Public Sector”. The structure of the CRP 2017-2019 is as follows:

    Structure of the Core Research Programme 2017-2019

    The Research Lines

    The core research programme 2017-2019 is divided in seven Research Lines.

    RL1. Managing e-Governance for a Successful Digital Transformation: Planning, Designing, Assessing, and Monitoring

    The research line is based on three main premises:

    1. e-Governance is a central component of a successful digital transformation for the public service and the public sector;
    2. e-Governance is a wide and complex domain that demands an eclectic and holistic perspective – global thinking – of how digital technologies can facilitate and catalyse the reform, transformation, and modernization of the multiple activities of States;
    3. e-Governance implementation is a gradual and continuous process.

    The need to articulate a “global thinking” with a “gradual and continuous implementation” makes evident the need to manage e-Governance in order to achieve a sustained and sustainable government digital transformation. This research line encompasses different ongoing research projects that are divided into three parts: the first part is related to the development, renewal, and redesign of the e-Government strategy into a digital governance strategy; the second part aims at developing instruments and tools for measuring, assessing, and monitoring e-Governance development and progress; the third part aims at anticipating what EGOV could be and bring in the future and, based on this, providing guidance to policy-makers and EGOV development leaders.


    RL2. Socio-economic Impact of Digital Governance

    The implementation of digital governance involves complexities on bringing together different stakeholders with different perspectives. However, once governments can incorporate this multitude, there are many positive impacts that can be generated. Transforming Business-to-Government information exchange, for instance, might result in more efficiency, higher information quality and reduction of redundant controls to help government better serve the public by offering, at best value, acquisition services and management policies.

    This research line encompasses three sub projects on how digital government helps mitigate informality and the shadow economy, and reduce the administrative burden cost. The more outer analysis is to see the role of digital governance to stimulate the birth of innovation and entrepreneurship.


    RL3. Smart Governance for Sustainable Cities and Communities

    In compliance with the challenge of the 2030 Agenda SDGs, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda, this research line aims to study and explore how ICT supports the development of sustainable cities and leads to a more inclusive society. Although the main drivers of this research line are the development of comprehensive solutions embracing all city domains i.e. economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and governance, special attention will be given to projects on electricity, mobility, and environment sectors, because improvements in these sectors have a profound impact in all urban and rural communities and domains.


    RL4. Digital Media and Digital Democracy

    The objective of this research line is to analyse local government actions and policies, determine the quality of their digital democracy efforts, and ensure their sustainability. While this research line is primarily focused on the phenomenon in the context of Portuguese local governments, it can be expanded and directed towards developing guidelines for local governments in other settings. Another part of this research line is related to the use and adoption of technologies for civic engagement.


    RL5. Digital Certification and Preservation of Digital Memory

    The purpose of this research line is related to the security of information and data governance field. The research line examines the dematerialization of documents and the preservation of digital memory to face any risks, such as security breaches, natural disaster issues, etc. It also emphasizes the importance of data and information authentication, electronic identity management (electronic identity and digital signatures), and governance.


    RL6. Emerging Technologies for Digital Transformation in the Public Sector

    The purpose of this research line is to explore how emerging technologies, such as Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine and cognitive learning can transform the public sector, service delivery, decision-making, and support the sustainable development. This research line focuses on the adoption process and use-cases driven by the opportunities, benefits, potential weaknesses, and risks associated with new technologies and concepts in innovation and digital transformation. It also includes, among others, the study of the benefits of emerging technologies (IoT, Blockchain and machine learning) for smart cities and mapping the potential use, benefits and limitations of blockchain technologies for the digital governance.


    RL7. Digital Governance Evolution: a Practice-Research Collaboration

    The objective of this research line is to produce knowledge about professional practice. It encompasses two main aspects:

    1. Practice / clinical research, focusing on real life cases, corresponding both to successes and failures, in order to ascertain the effectiveness of EGOV professional practices and to unveil means-ends relationships associated to those practices.
    2. Translational research to put theories into practice, thus enabling the improvement of EGOV professional practices and vice versa.

    This research line demands close collaboration with both the other research lines and EGOV practitioners and professionals. In many situations, EGOV practitioners and professionals will also play the role of researchers as action-research will be a key research method.