Source: December 8, 2017 – Governing
I will be giving research presentations at Renmin University (School of Public Administration and Policy) and Beijing Forestry University (School of Humanities and Social Sciences) on November 3, 2017
Technological Innovation and the Public: 3Ps - Purpose, Process, and Products
Technological innovations are fundamentally transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomena requires us to undertake research that 1) draws on multiple disciplines, 2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, 3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and 4) generates actionable solutions. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset; beginning with the inception of ideas, continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and then communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises. Drawing on over a dozen research projects, this presentation will highlight key strategic management challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations. Opportunities for use-inspired research will be discussed. In addition, I will present a working model for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.
Alfred Ho (University of Kansas) will be presenting our paper at the 2017 Assoc. Budgeting & Financial Management Conference in Washington, D.C.
Performance Budgeting in U.S. cities: A Multi-Level Analysis
Many past studies have documented different types of performance information usage in the budgetary process. Many also show that various organizational factors influence its usage. In this study, we take a new theoretical approach by analyzing the practice of performance budgeting through a multi-level perspective. Using data from a survey study of U.S. local departments, this study analyzes how service nature, organizational capacity, leadership, organizational culture, and political institutional forces influence how performance analytics is used or not used to impact budgetary decision-making. The empirical results show that there are different dynamics for performance-informed performance budgeting and high-impact performance budgeting. Politics do not necessarily eliminate a need for performance-informed budgeting, but executive commitment to data-driven decision-making is necessary to achieve high impact in using performance budgeting.
My colleagues will be attending the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences to present our research.
Factors Promoting the Collection of Performance Measurement: Evidence from US Local Governments
Performance measurement has gained significant importance around the world. Many governments are adopting performance measurement as a part of reform efforts. Despite the widespread practitioner attention, academic studies are inconclusive about the impact of performance measurement in the public sector. Moreover, while studies have examined what factors influence the adoption of performance measures and its impact, they have paid relatively less attention to the use of different types of performance measures. To fill this gap, this study examines: (1) what types of performance measures are collected by US local governments and; (2) how organizational, technical, and external factors influence the collection of performance measurement. Leveraging survey data, we conduct cluster analysis and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to study factors that impact the collection of performance measures. The findings of QCA highlight that no single condition dominates the collection of performance measurement, rather different combinations of organizational and external factors influence the outcome. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for local policymakers and managers.
The 2016 US Presidential Election on Facebook: An Exploratory Analysis of Sentiments
Social media platforms are valuable tools for political campaigns. In this study, we analyze a dataset representing over 22 thousand Facebook posts by candidates and over 48 million comments to understand the nature of online discourse. Specifically, we study the interaction between political candidates and the public during the 2016 presidential elections in the United States. We outline a novel method to classify commentators into four groups: strong supporters, supporters, dissenters, and strong dissenters. Comments by each group on policy-related topics are analyzed using sentiment analysis. Finally, we discuss avenues for future research to study the dynamics of social media platforms and political campaigns.
Saud Alashri (Arizona State University), Srinivasa Srivatsav Kandala (Arizona State University), Vikash Bajaj (Arizona State University), Emily Parriott (Georgia Tech), Yukika Awazu (IÉSEG School of Management)
Cognitive Computing @ Brookings Institution Tech Tank
- “Learning from Public Sector Experimentation with Artificial Intelligence,” (w/Krishnamurthy, R. and Dawson, G.S.) June 23, 2017.
- “Chatbots Move Public Sector towards Artificial Intelligence,” (w/Krishnamurthy, R.) June 2, 2017.
Performance Analytics Project Report
- “The State of Performance Analytics in Local Government: Analysis of Measures,” (2/ Dawson, G.S., Ho, A. T-K., and Krishnamurthy, R.) Technical Report, Alliance for Innovation, April 2017, 32 pages. (see project page)
- Panel proposal accepted for the 2017 Annual Conference of the Assoc. for Budgeting & Financial Management (w/ Ho, A. T-K., Thurmaier, K., de Jong, M., Joyce, P., and Savage, J.)
Information Systems Research that Makes a Difference: A Modest Proposal
I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature (business, engineering, public policy, etc.). Research done with the sole intention of producing a journal article or conference paper is not good enough. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomenon requires us to undertake research that (1) draws on multiple disciplines, (2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, (3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and (4) communicates to a diverse set of audiences. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset, beginning with the inception of ideas, and then continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises.
In this talk, I will offer personal reflections on how to structure research programs to maximize several goals. First, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the research process. Second, to maximize the potential that research outputs will be accepted by scholarly and practitioner communities. Third, to work with stakeholders to leverage the knowledge that is generated, to advance societal outcomes. I will share examples from a wide range of projects to elaborate on how scholars can build agile, responsive, and responsible research projects that have relevance beyond the ivory tower.
I will present a method (process) for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. Illustrative examples of research projects will be used to exemplify this process and outline strategies for researchers to consider when conducting inter-disciplinary research projects. I will pay particular attention to global research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to sharing lessons about what works, I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.
The Aspen Institute released a report on Science & Civics: A Guide for Collaborative Action.
Today, it is necessary and urgent to defend the vital role of science in a healthy civic life. This report begins with the premise that there is a gap in both civic literacy and scientific literacy in the United States. The Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program (CAI) believes that these two trends are connected – and that addressing them together is vital to cultivating a citizenry capable of informed self-government. Through the Science & Civics Initiative, CAI aims to help scientists become more powerful citizens and enable citizens to make sense of the world and its complex problems more like scientists. The goal of this report is to outline a path of collaborative action for both civic groups and scientists.
I had the pleasure to contribute ideas to this report. Other contributors to the report include:
Shannon Dosemagen, Executive Director of Public Lab New Orleans
Dr. John Falk, Sea Grant Professor of Free Choice Learning at Oregon State University
Leetha Filderman, President and COO of PopTech
Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer of Science Friday
Cary Funk, Associate Director of Research on Science and Society at Pew Research Center
Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dr. Leandris Liburd, Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Dietram Scheufele, John E. Ross Chair in Science Communication in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Brooke Smith, Executive Director of Compass
I am launching a new project in the area of Cognitive Computing Systems. Below is a brief description of the effort. You can read a recent post that I did for Brookings here. If you are interested in collaborating on this project, please contact me.
Every major technology player is investing serious financial and human capital into the development of Cognitive Computing Systems (CCSs). CCSs leverage artificial intelligence and machine intelligence techniques to build systems that can 1) learn from interactions, 2) analyze large datasets in an effective and efficient manner, and 3) increase the of precision of outcomes overtime through continuous process of analyzing and learning from data. Put more simply, CCSs are inspired by the potential to mimic how the human brain acquires, analyzes, and employs data to make decisions. Research and development efforts and emerging prototypes point to the fact that CCSs have significant potential to cause major disruptions in all facets of the public sector. In addition, if one considers CCSs along with other emerging technologies (e.g. autonomous vehicles or fully connected machine-to-machine networks), the magnitude of disruption is potentially greater. Public agencies need to take a more proactive approach towards 1) understanding the nature of CCSs, 2) appreciating their potential to enable agencies to increase performance and optimize resource allocations, and 3) charting pathways towards adopting, experimenting with, and implementing these systems. This project will focus on providing public managers with actionable insights on the above-mentioned three issues.
Today, CCSs are being designed to support human decision-makers by providing them evidence-based solutions through analyzing large quantities of data within a domain. In an ideal world, according to technology enthusiasts, these systems should be able to make decisions on their own, thereby removing some of the traditional concerns with human decision-makers (e.g. prejudice, errors, etc.). CCSs will also be networked with other such systems so as to conduct transactions without human intervention. While there is no doubting that the sophistication of these systems will increase over time and their costs will decrease making them affordable, serious public policy and management considerations must be addressed to fully leverage their potential. Our project will focus on studying how public agencies can take a proactive approach to preparing themselves for CCSs. We will not only study the technical and organizational issues associated with CCSs, but take a close look at the social and public policy issues.
Our research methodology will take a multi-prong approach. First, we will document lessons learned from several of our ongoing projects that include elements of CSSs (e.g. machine learning algorithms, data mining, sensor-networks, etc.). Second, we will collect case studies on various CSSs projects in the public sector. We will seek to collect cases beyond the US, and will also look at CSSs projects at various scales. Through the analysis of these cases we will seek to uncover issues and challenges associated with implanting CCSs. In addition, these cases will enable us to tease apart various common themes that various stakeholders within the CCSs face as they conceive of, launch, and manage these projects. Third, we will leverage our vast network of public sector CIOs, technology enthusiasts, futurists, and innovators to conduct in-depth interviews on CCSs in the public sphere. Our interviews will focus on technical, organizational, policy, and social dimensions of CCSs and their role in 1) transforming public agencies, 2) innovating policy design, implantation, and evaluation, and 3) the nature of data, analytics, and systems as a public good.
The IBM Center for the Business of Government has generously provided support for the first report from this project.
An article I co-authored with Gregory S. Dawson (Arizona State University), James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada), Clay K. Williams (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), and David Preston (Texas Christian University) has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Management Information Systems.
An Examination of Effective IT Governance in the Public Sector Using the Legal View of Agency Theory
In the private sector, research on IT governance has frequently applied the classical view of agency theory and focused on the controlling role played by the board of directors in constraining potentially opportunistic manager/agent. However, in the public sector, the board of directors does not exist and there may be less need to focus on the controlling aspect of governance and more need to focus on the politically challenging distribution of state resources. In this U.S. state-based study, we adopt, apply and extend the legal view of agency theory past its sole focus on the board of directors as the solitary mediating hierarch in order to examine the strategic mediating hierarch role played by the state legislature and then conceptualize and test for the existence of a tactical mediating hierarch played by the IT steering committee and the production role of an independent office of the chief information officer (OCIO) in using a fee-for-service funding model. We apply these concepts to extend theory to examine the combination of roles that lead to superior outcomes for the state (the principal) versus those necessary for the IT department (the agent). Our results show that by shifting from the control-oriented view of governance in the private sector to a more mediating view in the public sector, important practices may be portable between the public and private sector, despite their widely differing structures.
Predictive Analytics: Nudging, Shoving, and Smacking Behaviors in Higher Education
With predictive analytics, colleges and universities are able to “nudge” individuals toward making better decisions and exercising rational behavior to enhance their probabilities of success.