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Public Agencies or Nonprofit Organizations: Which sector is maximizing its
E-participation tools to promote citizen engagement?
There is a long literature regarding the importance of civic participation, perhaps starting as early as the early 19th century with Alexis de Tocqueville. Implicit the “new public service” is the importance of providing information for the public, but also taking information in from the public. Technology allows for more inclusiveness in governing through e-participation. Government’s move to increasingly rely on nonprofit organizations for the provision of services had brought organizations in the public and nonprofit sectors into a position where they are both active in promoting a public benefit. Recent moves in governing argue to bring more stakeholders to the virtual decision-making table. ICTs provide the vehicle for more people to be at that virtual table. The extent to which public and nonprofit organizations utilize these mediums has grown in recent years. What is missing is a comparative study of utilization between the two sectors of similar organizations. This paper will compare similar organizations’ use of ICTs in the two sectors. An analysis of Web sites and social media platforms will be conducted using indexes that allow for a cross-sector comparison. The purpose is two fold: to broaden the empirical analysis of ICT adoption, and second, to better understand which sector is more open to public input via these new mediums. Administrators in both sectors can use the results of this to see not only the ICT tools their ‘competitors’, to use New Public Management terminology, are using but also see where they are lagging in promoting e-participation.