Friday, 24 October 2014

Tweeting in government follows the flow of money and power - Dr Panos Panagiotopoulos, Lecturer in Management at Queen Mary

Public authorities mainly use social media to communicate with citizens. But they can also use networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to link people with expertise within the public sector. Unfortunately we still know little about how public officials use social media in this context. This article reports new research findings about these networks, from a study of tweets from the Twitter hashtag #localgov. We find that the pattern and direction of Twitter communication in government itself facilitates internal networking while reflecting the structure of power in the British state.

Every two years, Oxford’s Internet Institute runs the Internet, Politics, and Policy (IPP) conference. This year, the conference looked at crowdsourcing. The purpose was to inform policy debates as well as to advance social science research. New work was presented on crowdfunding, crowdlabour (see the Amazon Mechanical Turk) and government crowdsourcing. Research in the area is now less impressed by the size and power of the crowds and more interested in the composition of the crowds and in people’s motivation to join them. For example, the Zoouniverse platform is an impressive collection of citizen science websites. Visitors to the site can help research by classify galaxies according to their shape, because people are often better at pattern recognition than algorithms are. Nevertheless, it is hard to sustain crowdsourcing initiatives. You can find more detailed reflections from the conference and a full list of papers here.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Why Tory backbenchers might think twice before rebelling against Scottish “devo plus” – the politics of public spending and nationhood after the referendum - Prof Perri 6 - Chair in Public Management, Queen Mary

This is the second in a series of articles on this blog about the consequences of the Scottish referendum and the “vow” made by the three leaders of the main unionist parties. Having looked in the last piece at the likely development of Scottish National Party strategy to address the major public policy and public management challenges their programme faces, this article examines the implications for the public services of the positions emerging within the Conservative party.

The Conservatives' stance on the the terms and value of the union and on the governance of public spending in Scotland and the other countries of the UK now appears more divided than that party has been on these issues in their history.

Mr Cameron's “vow”, as part of his pitch to voters in Scotland to remain in the union, was that the Barnett formula on shares of public spending in the four countries would be maintained. As I argued in a recent post, Mr Cameron appeared – without clearly saying so – to allow Scots to expect that block grant payment to Scotland would not be reduced proportionately in response to tax increases made by the Scottish parliament under either its existing or new proposed tax-varying powers. Secondly, he committed his party to support additional powers for the Scottish parliament, which would include powers to control some taxes, although the details have yet to be settled. Based on the recommendations of the Conservatives' commission report chaired by Lord Strathclyde, we could expect much more extensive control over income tax for the Scottish parliament than Labour's or the Liberal Democrats' commissions recommended (see my brief summary analysis here).