Open government objectives and participation motivations

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Publication date: January 2015Source:Government Information Quarterly, Volume 32, Issue 1
Author(s): Fons Wijnhoven, Michel Ehrenhard, Johannes Kuhn
Open government aims, among others, at improving engagement of citizens in public sector activities. To realize this potential, we need to understand citizens’ motivations to engage in the many different variants of open government. This article identifies motivations for open government participation from the free/libre open source software (FLOSS) and crowdsourcing literature. The literature gives two dimensions of open government aims: innovation objectives (high or low) and managerial level (political versus administrative). The results of our survey with 168 participants revealed different motivations for participation in open government projects related to three objectives of open government projects: collaborative democracy, citizen sourcing, and citizen ideation & innovation. We found indications that socio-economic characteristics of citizens do not influence the willingness to participate in open government projects—contrary to findings in other forms of government participation—and therefore open government opens a great potential for enlarged citizen engagement. Our survey also indicates that open government projects with lower ambitions result in more participation than more ambitious projects, which implies that considerable steps need to be taken to realize the full potential of open government.

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