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Assessing the Relevance of Governmental Characteristics to Address Wicked Problems in Turbulent Times

New paper co-authored with James Denford, Gregory Dawson, and Aroon Manoharan has been published in Public Management Review.

Governments have long faced traditional bureaucratic problems and developed a set of mechanisms to handle them, but few studies have examined the government’s underlying characteristics in addressing such problems. Wicked problems – those with unclear definitions, causal complexity and conflicting goals – are increasingly emerging and are frequently observed in highly turbulent environments – those where variables behave in unpredictable ways. We study the relevance of a range of governmental characteristics during the COVID-19 pandemic and find that, while all government characteristics are sometimes relevant, no single characteristic is always relevant and so they are best treated as a portfolio.

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

How Much is Not Enough: Corporate Social Responsibility and Beyond in the Resources Sector

New paper co-authored with Caroline Veldhuizen, Wasana Bandara, and Artemis Chang has been published in Resources Policy.

Highlights

  • CSR practices are comprised of stakeholder engagement and operational activities.
  • A holistic framework based upon extant literature enhances analysis of CSR practices.
  • Pursuit of social licence to operate has impacts at both surface and deeper levels.
  • The appearance of a lot of CSR activity is often ‘not enough’.
  • Reflection and learning are crucial to improve responses to diverse stakeholders.

To access the paper, please click here [LINK]

Abstract

The resources sector is increasingly being called upon to show greater commitment to resolving environmental and social problems prevalent in the regions where they operate. Appeals for greater responsibility, accountability and transparency are getting louder. Consequently, enterprises’ responses to these demands have been the subject of discussion and debate for decades. Theoretical and empirical knowledge regarding these issues has been generated by numerous case studies and evaluations of different approaches to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Critiques of approaches adopted by companies to obtain social license to operate are also plentiful. However, the existing discourse is scattered. It lacks a coherent frame of reference for considering the ways that corporations respond to diverse stakeholder demands and the consequences for value creation. This paper addresses this gap by integrating key insights drawn from the extant literature to develop a novel conceptual framework. It provides a unique perspective on the ways that companies create social, environmental, and economic value for diverse groups of stakeholders, and how this may be improved. This theoretical contribution is accompanied by the creation of a sense-making device that facilitates reflection, learning and the development of strategy. The device can be used by organizations to enhance their capacity to respond to diverse stakeholder groups in ways that bestow real, enduring benefits.

 

Organizational robustness: A conceptual framework

New paper co-authored with Yancong Xie and Mohammad Jabbari published in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management.

On organizational robustness: A conceptual framework

Understanding robustness and how organizations can configure and adapt is fundamental for their survival. In this paper, we build on the general system theory to conceptualize the underlying mechanisms of organizational robustness. We propose a framework that defines the fundamental notions and typologies of robustness— instrumental, structural, and cognitive robustness. We define mechanisms for these three categories of robustness as strategical mechanisms, functional mechanisms, and infrastructure mechanisms, and we explain how these mechanisms enable proactive, structured, or agile organizational responses to predictable and unpredictable crises.

To access the article [LINK]

Public AI Canvas for AI-Enabled Public Value

New paper co-authored with Samar Fatima, Christoph Buck, and Erwin Fielt published in Government Information Quarterly.

Public AI canvas for AI-enabled public value: A design science approach

Public agencies have a strong interest in artificial intelligence (AI) systems. However, many public agencies lack tools and frameworks to articulate a viable business model and evaluate public value as they consider investing in AI systems. The business model canvas used extensively in the private sector offers us a foundation for designing a public AI canvas (PAIC). Employing a design science approach, this study reports on the design and evaluation of PAIC. The PAIC comprises three distinctive layers: (1) the public value-oriented AI-enablement layer; (2) the public value logic layer; and (3) the public value-oriented social guidance layer. PAIC offers guidance on innovating the business models of public agencies to create and capture AI-enabled value. For practitioners, PAIC presents a validated tool to guide AI deployment in public agencies.

To access the paper: [LINK]

A Typology of Chatbots in Public Service Delivery – IEEE Software

New paper co-authored with Tendai Makasi, Alireza Nili, and Mary Tate has been published in IEEE Software.

Chatbots are being used in an increasingly wide range of public services and present several benefits for public service delivery. Our typology contributes to effective chatbot-mediated service delivery in the public service context.

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

Digital Transformation in the Resource and Energy Sectors

New paper co-authored with Parisa Maroufkhani, Robert K.Perrons, and Mohammad Iranmanesh published in Resources Policy.

The forces of digital transformation have delivered significant benefits like sustainable development and economic growth in a range of early adopter industries such as retail and manufacturing but, despite these potential benefits, the resource and energy sectors have been relative latecomers to digitalization simply because they are frequently slower to absorb new technologies. Here we present the results of a systematic literature review identifying the ways in which digital technologies have been applied in the oil and gas, mining, and energy domains. We applied content and descriptive analysis to evaluate and discuss 151 academic articles selected from the Scopus database. Two particularly interesting trends emerge from the analysis. First, over 75% of the papers were about the energy sector excluding the oil & gas industry, and only a small minority were from the mining or oil & gas sectors. Second, the most frequently discussed objective of digital transformation was the reduction of operational expenses. By surveying the different ways in which these innovations have been used in these industries and identifying trends and patterns in how digital technologies have been applied, the findings of this review deepen our understanding of the current state of digital technologies within the resource and energy sectors and, in so doing, shine a useful amount of light on the contributions that digital transformation has made to businesses in these sectors. This paper also highlights for future scholars, practitioners, and policymakers the six research areas that they should focus on in the future to help the resource and energy sectors accelerate the digital transformation process and improve their ability to deliver value with these innovations.

To access the article, please click [LINK]

International Dialogue: Emerging Technology for Response and Recovery

In a post-pandemic world, homeland security and border control agencies are being tasked with transforming how they respond and operate in a highly digitalized environment, while ensuring safety and prosperity of citizens and country.

Critical challenges that agencies face include the increasing volume of incidents and emergencies, overly complex trade and immigration processes, and evolving threats to borders and customs. Governments can leverage data, AI, intelligent automation, and other emerging technologies to address these complex challenges—while also freeing up critical human resources for high value missions.

To address these key issues, the IBM Center for The Business of Government hosted an international dialogue in September 2021 attended by CIOs and IT leaders with the Australia Department of Home Affairs, the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. These three dynamic leaders engaged in an interactive dialogue, joined by nearly 50 attendees from across the globe.

I draw on this discussion to produce a report providing keen insights about leveraging technologies to improve operations and security across borders. Participants addressed supply chain assurance, opening borders amidst the global fight against COVID-19, and the role of data, AI, and other technologies to support border security. The wide-ranging discussion also touched on addressing the needs of the future, anticipating new threats, and developing response strategies. These strategies—which rest on hybrid, multi-cloud environments—include operational capabilities that can stand up “on demand” to address rapidly shifting threats.

To read the report, please click here.

Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector: A Maturity Model

The IBM Center for the Business of Government released my new report today.

Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector: A Maturity Model

The technology is revolutionizing the way we derive value and insights from data in order to improve our daily lives. In addition, governments gather a treasure trove of pertinent data that can be used to execute important missions and improve services to the citizen. An effective AI program can greatly enhance the ability of the public sector to deliver on that promise.

The challenge has always been to design and implement an AI program that has all the critical elements in place to successfully achieve the goal of improved mission delivery and citizen services. An initial report commissioned by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, Delivering Artificial Intelligence in Government: Challenges and Opportunities, proposed an initial maturity model that gave public agencies a starting point for developing an AI capability. Subsequently, we have had the opportunity to fine tune the model, based on extensive research on how the public sector was deploying AI, documenting successful use cases and highlighting pitfalls and lessons learned.

The revised maturity model was shared with experienced public sector practitioners and feedback from these discussions led to a further revision. The revised model was then shared with a final group of reviewers that included public sector executives (both within and beyond the information systems domain), academics, and consultants.

We hope that this report provides public sector leaders a view into the “art of the possible” by emphasizing how AI programs can accelerate the transformation of government programs to better serve the public and by providing them a framework for establishing a successful AI program. We will continue to explore this topic and will provide further updates as the use of AI in the public sector continues to evolve.

To access the report, please click [Report]

A blog post on the report by Margie Graves (Visiting Fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government, former Deputy Federal CIO for the Office of Management and Budget) is available here: [Post]