Research by the Chair in Digital Government

Professor Miriam Lips' research concentrates on the introduction, management and use of digital technologies in the public sector and its external relationships with society, and the managerial, governmental, democratic, social and ethical implications.

Current research topics:

Digital inclusion, digital transformation; digital engagement; identity, privacy and security; governance and transparency; benefits realisation; managing digital government initiatives; access to government and digital inclusion; big data, algorithms, data analysis and changes in public policy; joined up government and information sharing; collaborative governance; public data management and open government; management of electronic public records; digital democracy.

Current research

Successful projects in digital government

This research explores the factors and conditions of successful digital government projects. The work is an update of the 2012 study we undertook into benefits realisation, conducted for the Office of the Auditor-General. Since then, we can observe a rapidly changing environment, both technologically, institutionally and socially, and a continuing history of digital government projects that have failed. We explore 6 to 8 case studies of successful digital government and aim to learn from their success.

Completed research

Understanding digital inclusion and exclusion among seniors

It is widely accepted that people over 65 (called seniors throughout this research report) belong to one of the most digitally excluded groups in our society (see for example, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), 2019; 2018). Accessing and effectively using digital technologies, such as Smart Phones and the internet, to achieve outcomes of increased societal participation, is referred to in this research as being digitally included.

However, it is not well understood which seniors are digitally included and which are not and what digital exclusion or inclusion look likes in New Zealand. People have assumptions, but empirical evidence is lacking. This research aims to cater for this need by exploring why seniors in New Zealand are using, or not using, digital technologies to participate in society, and what the barriers to the effective use of digital technologies are for older people. Furthermore, the research findings are intended to be used as a basis for developing a self-evaluation approach to digital inclusion.

Understanding children's use and experience with digital technologies

This research seeks to understand how primary school students from various backgrounds use and experience digital technologies, and how these technologies are affecting their daily lives. This study is conducted by an academic research team as part of the Chair in Digital Government's research work programme at the School of Government.

Making it easier for small businesses to interact with government online

This research explores what would make it easier for business individuals and small businesses to deal with government agencies and use online channels instead of traditional channels in their interactions with government. This study is conducted by an academic research team as part of the Chair in Digital Government's research work programme at the School of Government.

Kiwis managing their online identity information

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) commissioned the Chair to conduct this mixed-method research project to get a deeper understanding of the online identity information behaviours of New Zealanders. The research will look at how varying e-relationships are enabled by different online channels or devices and identify effective solutions for the New Zealand government in managing risks around online identity information behaviours and people’s experiences with cybercrime. The project was undertaken during 2013 and 2014.

Using social media for effective public engagement

This research activity explores criteria for effective online public engagement using social networking tools, such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Based on an extensive literature and document study, the project aims to develop an evaluation framework for effective e-engagement between government agencies and individuals. The developed evaluation framework will be applied to multiple e-engagement cases in operation across the New Zealand public sector.

Researchers involved: Professor Miriam Lips, Dr Elizabeth Eppel, Dr Karl Löfgren

e-Campaigning by political parties in the 2011 New Zealand General Election

This research activity is a follow-up study on the project 'The use of new media by political parties in the 2008 national election', conducted with Hugo Gong in 2008-2009.

The use of new media in managing natural disasters

How, why, and under what conditions, have new media been used for information sharing and collaborative action across government agencies, between government agencies, NGOs, businesses and members of the general public, and among members of the general public, in dealing with a major natural disaster?

Realising benefits from six public sector technology projects

The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) commissioned the e-Government Chair to conduct a case study-based research project in order to better understand good practice in benefits realisation and maximisation in successful public sector ICT-enabled projects. The purpose of the project is to improve benefits realisation in ICT-enabled projects through identifying and promoting good practice and the enabling factors.

The research findings have been used in the Auditor-General's discussion paper Realising benefits from six public sector technology projects, which was presented to the House of Representatives on Wednesday 27 June 2012.

Public attitudes to the sharing of personal information in the course of electronic public service provision

What are attitudes of different members of the New Zealand general public towards the collection, management, and sharing of personal information in the course of online public service provision?

Improving information sharing for effective social outcomes

In order to build government structures and activities around the fundamental needs of individuals and to achieve more effective social outcomes for New Zealanders, how can cross-government information sharing be improved, taking into account fundamental rights like the privacy protection of individual? What can be learned from other jurisdictions in this respect?

The use of new media by political parties in the 2008 national elections

This empirical study involves qualitative research into forms and ways in which political parties in New Zealand made use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the 2008 elections, and their implications. The project focussed on exploring changes in both external relationships and the internal organisation of political parties as a result of using ICTs.

Effective electronic record management in 21st century government - part 2

This research project investigated how public servants across the New Zealand central government handle emails of significant organisational value. The project also identified specifications for effective electronic record management across New Zealand central government, and made recommendations to government agencies on how to improve email management practices that support compliance with the Public Records Act.

Better connected services for kiwis

This Emerging Issues Programme project, co-ordinated by Derek Gill (IPS), reviewed the preconditions for more joined-up citizen/user focussed services, the characteristics of areas where it occurs and factors influencing diffusion. The key outcome was an attempt to accelerate learning about what is needed to manage shared outcomes in complex policy settings with involvement of multiple agencies.

Identity management review

This research project involved an overview study of available academic definitions of the concept of 'Identity Management' in the public sector, with the purpose of arriving at a working definition of Identity Management for the New Zealand Central Government. Moreover, the research explored Identity Management initiatives in several other jurisdictions (Australia, Austria, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and the UK).

Effective electronic record management in 21st century government - part 1

This research project empirically explored how individuals employed by New Zealand public service departments identify and manage e-mails of critical value to the business of government. The project has sought to identify specifications for effective email management across the New Zealand central government, as well as to make recommendations to government agencies on how to overcome existing gaps between the Public Records Act and current electronic recordkeeping practices and behaviour.