Identification and evaluation of service bundles for governmental one-stop portals

Kohlborn, Thomas (2012) Identification and evaluation of service bundles for governmental one-stop portals. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Recent advances in the area of ‘Transformational Government’ position the citizen at the centre of focus. This paradigm shift from a department-centric to a citizen-centric focus requires governments to re-think their approach to service delivery, thereby decreasing costs and increasing citizen satisfaction. The introduction of franchises as a virtual business layer between the departments and their citizens is intended to provide a solution. Franchises are structured to address the needs of citizens independent of internal departmental structures.

For delivering services online, governments pursue the development of a One-Stop Portal, which structures information and services through those franchises. Thus, each franchise can be mapped to a specific service bundle, which groups together services that are deemed to be of relevance to a specific citizen need.

This study focuses on the development and evaluation of these service bundles. In particular, two research questions guide the line of investigation of this study:

Research Question 1): What methods can be used by governments to identify service bundles as part of governmental One-Stop Portals?

Research Question 2): How can the quality of service bundles in governmental One-Stop Portals be evaluated?

The first research question asks about the identification of suitable service bundle identification methods. A literature review was conducted, to, initially, conceptualise the service bundling task, in general. As a consequence, a 4-layer model of service bundling and a morphological box were created, detailing characteristics that are of relevance when identifying service bundles. Furthermore, a literature review of Decision-Support Systems was conducted to identify approaches of relevance in different bundling scenarios. These initial findings were complemented by targeted studies of multiple leading governments in the e-government domain, as well as with a local expert in the field. Here, the aim was to identify the current status of online service delivery and service bundling in practice. These findings led to the conceptualising of two service bundle identification methods, applicable in the context of Queensland Government: On the one hand, a provider-driven approach, based on service description languages, attributes, and relationships between services was conceptualised. As well, a citizen-driven approach, based on analysing the outcomes from content identification and grouping workshops with citizens, was also conceptualised. Both methods were then applied and evaluated in practice.

The conceptualisation of the provider-driven method for service bundling required the initial specification of relevant attributes that could be used to identify similarities between services called relationships; these relationships then formed the basis for the identification of service bundles. This study conceptualised and defined seven relationships, namely ‘Co-location’, ‘Resource’, ‘Co-occurrence’, ‘Event’, ‘Consumer’, ‘Provider’, and ‘Type’. The relationships, and the bundling method itself, were applied and refined as part of six Action Research cycles in collaboration with the Queensland Government. The findings show that attributes and relationships can be used effectively as a means for bundle identification, if distinct decision rules are in place to prescribe how services are to be identified.

For the conceptualisation of the citizen-driven method, insights from the case studies led to the decision to involve citizens, through card sorting activities. Based on an initial list of services, relevant for a certain franchise, participating citizens grouped services according to their liking. The card sorting activity, as well as the required analysis and aggregation of the individual card sorting results, was analysed in depth as part of this study. A framework was developed that can be used as a decision-support tool to assist with the decision of what card sorting analysis method should be utilised in a given scenario. The characteristic features associated with card sorting in a government context led to the decision to utilise statistical analysis approaches, such as cluster analysis and factor analysis, to aggregate card sorting results.

The second research question asks how the quality of service bundles can be assessed. An extensive literature review was conducted focussing on bundle, portal, and e-service quality. It was found that different studies use different constructs, terminology, and units of analysis, which makes comparing these models a difficult task. As a direct result, a framework was conceptualised, that can be used to position past and future studies in this research domain.

Complementing the literature review, interviews conducted as part of the case studies with leaders in e-government, indicated that, typically, satisfaction is evaluated for the overall portal once the portal is online, but quality tests are not conducted during the development phase. Consequently, a research model which appropriately defines perceived service bundle quality would need to be developed from scratch. Based on existing theory, such as Theory of Reasoned Action, Expectation Confirmation Theory, and Theory of Affordances, perceived service bundle quality was defined as an inferential belief. Perceived service bundle quality was positioned within the nomological net of services. Based on the literature analysis on quality, and on the subsequent work of a focus group, the hypothesised antecedents (descriptive beliefs) of the construct and the associated question items were defined and the research model conceptualised. The model was then tested, refined, and finally validated during six Action Research cycles.

Results show no significant difference in higher quality or higher satisfaction among users for either the provider-driven method or for the citizen-driven method. The decision on which method to choose, it was found, should be based on contextual factors, such as objectives, resources, and the need for visibility.

The constructs of the bundle quality model were examined. While the quality of bundles identified through the citizen-centric approach could be explained through the constructs ‘Navigation’, ‘Ease of Understanding’, and ‘Organisation’, bundles identified through the provider-driven approach could be explained solely through the constructs ‘Navigation’ and ‘Ease of Understanding’. An active labelling style for bundles, as part of the provider-driven Information Architecture, had a larger impact on ‘Quality’ than the topical labelling style used in the citizen-centric Information Architecture. However, ‘Organisation’, reflecting the internal, logical structure of the Information Architecture, was a significant factor impacting on ‘Quality’ only in the citizen-driven Information Architecture. Hence, it was concluded that active labelling can compensate for a lack of logical structure. Further studies are needed to further test this conjecture. Such studies may involve building alternative models and conducting additional empirical research (e.g. use of an active labelling style for the citizen-driven Information Architecture).

This thesis contributes to the body of knowledge in several ways. Firstly, it presents an empirically validated model of the factors explaining and predicting a citizen’s perception of service bundle quality. Secondly, it provides two alternative methods that can be used by governments to identify service bundles in structuring the content of a One-Stop Portal. Thirdly, this thesis provides a detailed narrative to suggest how the recent paradigm shift in the public domain, towards a citizen-centric focus, can be pursued by governments; the research methodology followed by this study can serve as an exemplar for governments seeking to achieve a citizen-centric approach to service delivery.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 60963
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Rosemann, Michael, Fielt, Erwin, Korthaus, Axel, & Wimmer, Maria
Keywords: service-orientation, E-government, transformational government, service bundling, one-stop portal, survey, action research, design science
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Information Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 27 Jun 2013 01:44
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:38

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