Towards Policy Analysis 2.0

Justin Longo

Published: January 2013

Keywords: Theory of Planned Behavior, information and communication technology, Gov 2.0, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, collaborative technology, enterprise social collaboration, organizational social networks, organizational sub-cultures, organizational culture, collaboration, knowledge sharing, horizontal policy, Government of British Columbia, policy analysts, policy analysis, policy analyst archetypes, Technology and Capacity Development, Multilateral Relations


One approach to dealing with complexity in a public policy context is horizontality, the act of working across the various ministries and divisions of a government in order to harness the organization's capacity and resources and direct them towards the addressing of complex problems. And one prominent mechanism for promoting horizontality is greater organization-wide collaboration, knowledge sharing and active knowledge seeking amongst a network of government knowledge workers commonly referred to as policy analysts.

The emergent use of Web 2.0 tools and approaches within organizations has raised the possibility that we have entered a new knowledge era - Enterprise 2.0 - that can address the horizontality problem, facilitate the sharing of knowledge between policy analysts and across organizations, and promote transformative governance. This research investigated how policy formulation processes in the government of the Canadian province of British Columbia are being affected by the adoption of Web 2.0 tools internally within the organization as a way to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration amongst government policy analysts. Semi-structured interviews with members of corporate policy units in the Government of British Columbia were conducted (n = 14), and an on-line questionnaire was completed by Government of British Columbia policy analysts (n = 129). These mixed methods form the basis for a triangulation approach to assessing the research questions. Respondents conceptualized policy analysis as rooted in an apolitical synthesis of evidence and best practices from a variety of sources, leading to a recommendation designed to support decision-making.

The diversity and reach of the policy analyst's organizational social network is related to their length of service in the organization and is an important supplement to the analyst's knowledge base. There was little evidence that technology networks generally, and Web 2.0 tools specifically, play a prominent role in facilitating the knowledge organization; in fact, policy analysts may refrain from sharing knowledge with colleagues using technology networks in order to avoid contributing to their colleagues' information overload. Following the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), attitudes, followed by subjective norms, were the strongest and most consistent predictors of the policy analyst's intention to collaborate and share knowledge with their colleagues. Perceived behavioural control was not a factor, leading to the possibility that while policy analysts may believe and be told that knowledge sharing and collaboration are advantageous, they may not feel they have the authority, latitude or ability to do so. A significant gender result was consistently revealed, that women were found to be less supportive of knowledge sharing and collaboration than men, a result possibly due to a culture dominated by masculine characteristics.

The findings have implications for public sector organizations seeking to provide support for knowledge workers to make effective use of the organizational social network, new collaboration technologies and organizational capacity to address complex public policy problems. Interested readers should consult for updated versions of this research, and related work.

Disciplines: Governance

Publication: Longo_Justin_PhD_2013-final.pdf