Arab government social media use is focused on one-way communications that fail to offer public transparency and opportunities for citizen participation and collaboration
Arab public sector institutions must make significant institutional changes to their social media strategies to meet increased public demands for government transparency, participation in decision making, and collaboration in public service delivery, according to new findings from Tahseen Consulting.
The findings come as social media is widely being embraced by governments in the region as a key component of open government initiatives.
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By analyzing over 66,000 social media posts from 28 public sector entities in the education and employment sector in the GCC, Tahseen Consulting developed an Arab public sector social media maturity model which defines specific steps government departments can take to move from initial stages of social media adoption to more advanced stages of social media citizen engagement.
The model is detailed in Tahseen Consulting’s new study An Arab Open Government Maturity Model for Social Media Engagement. The study challenges previous models of e-government and open government maturity based on the experiences of Western countries by offering region-specific guidance that accounts for the unique governance tradition of Arab public sector entities. The report describes organizational changes government leaders can make to help their agencies leverage social media to complement national strategies to increase citizen participation.
“Arab public sector social media use remains largely focused on providing information on low priority activities which is already available via traditional media and on institutional websites,” said Wes Schwalje, Chief Operating Officer of Tahseen Consulting and author of the study. “The insights from our model can help agency leaders more effectively use social media in their open government strategies to create deeper connections with citizens.”
Nearly all of the government agencies surveyed are at an initial stage of leveraging social media as a part of regional open government movements. Though many government agencies in the region have adopted social media, most government agencies have low levels of activity, publish duplicative content on low priority activities, and fail to interact effectively with citizens and other government institutions.
“Use of social media as part of open government strategies is not a technology mandate but a commitment to underlying governing values such as transparency, collaboration, and participation that promote public accountability,” said Walid Aradi, Chief Executive Officer of Tahseen Consulting.
Bringing Arab open government initiatives in line with the spirit of open government movements in the West will require substantial organizational changes at Arab government agencies. “Government leaders can use the Arab Public Sector Social Media Maturity Model as a roadmap to determine specific organizational changes that need to be made in order to use social media more effectively in citizen interactions and to benchmark themselves against similar entities in the region,” Aradi said.
About the Study
The Arab Open Government Maturity Model for Social Media Engagement study, conducted in late 2012, involved the analysis of 66,000 social media posts gathered from the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts of 28 public sector entities in the education and employment sector in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.