Social media adoption: Toward a representative, responsive or interactive government?

Ines Mergel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

27 Scopus citations


Social media adoption is oftentimes seen as technologically determined by third parties outside of government, with government's role limited to reactively jump on the bandwagon and respond to citizen preferences. However, social media interactions are emergent and challenging existing bureaucratic norms and regulations. This paper provides empirical evidence for the institutionalization stages government agencies' move through when they are adopting new technologies. Adoption occurs at varying degrees of formalization and not all departments in the U.S. executive branch regulate and restrict the use of new technologies in the same way. The internal procedural and organizational changes that occur during the adoption process are extracted using qualitative interviews with social media directors in the 15 departments which received the executive order to "harness new technologies" in order to make the U.S. government more transparent, participatory and collaborative. In addition to the perceptions of federal social media directors, a process tracing approach was used to map the accompanying governance and institutional changes and follow-up orders to direct the adoption of social media. Tracing both the behavior of individual organizations as well as the institutional top-down responses, this paper is both relevant for academics as well as practitioners. It provides the basis for future large-scale research studies across all levels of government, as well as insights into the black box of organizational responses to a top-down political mandate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationdg.o 2014 - Proceedings of the 15th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research - Open Innovations and Sustainable Development in Government
Subtitle of host publicationExperiences from Around the World
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781450329019
StatePublished - 2014
Event15th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2014 - Aguascalientes, Mexico
Duration: Jun 18 2014Jun 21 2014

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Other15th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2014


  • Governance mechanisms
  • Institutionalization
  • New technology adoption
  • Social media
  • U.s. federal government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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