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Citizen Accountability in Open Government: A Case of a Canadian Local Government

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Title: Citizen Accountability in Open Government: A Case of a Canadian Local Government
Author: Bahramirad, Sina
Department: Department of Management
Program: Management
Advisor: Lassou, PhilippeZdaniuk, Agnes
Abstract: Accountability is a considerably complex and ambiguous social construct involving multiple elements. As an element of good governance, accountability has been the focus of a vast body of literature in public administration. A recent initiative aimed at improving citizen accountability (CA) that has been introduced and implemented in public governments in several countries is titled Open Government (OG). OG principles suggest that enhancing citizen engagement and transparency will improve CA and trust. However, the empirical research on how the entire CA process works in such a context is limited. The aim of this research is to explore the CA relationship between a local democratic OG and the citizens of a city in Ontario, Canada. Given the nature of the research questions (“How”) and considering that the study focuses on a contemporary phenomenon (i.e., CA) in a specific real-life context (i.e., a local OG), a case study was conducted in a city in Ontario that had adopted and implemented OG initiatives. Semi-structured interviews with elected and appointed officials of the city provided the primary sources of data. Archival data from social media platforms and municipal documents provided secondary sources of data for this study. A conceptual model of accountability by Bovens (2007a) informs the methodology and data analysis. The findings show that in the context of this case study, citizens are actively creating new accountability forums, which is facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICTs). Findings contribute to the literature on accountability through emergent themes that help to explain the accountability process in this case, that were previously not explained with conceptual models offered in the extant literature. Citizens were found to play a role in mediating the information provision phase of accountability relationships in the context of OG. Thus, this study also contributes to the public administration literature by demonstrating how accountability is arranged in an OG context and how the process of CA may be carried out in this case. Regarding practical contributions, the findings resulted in several managerial recommendations for public organizations. Study limitations, theoretical implications, and future research directions are discussed.
Date: 2018
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International