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Articles in "Research"


Quite a while ago, drawing mainly from the literature on tax morale, I posted about the evidence on the relationship between citizen engagement and tax revenues, in which participatory processes lead to increased tax compliance (as a side note, I’m still surprised how those working with citizen engagement are unaware of this evidence).

Until very recently this evidence was based on observational studies, both qualitative and quantitative. Now we have – to my knowledge – the first experimental evidence that links citizen participation and tax compliance.

From Govlab@NYU

The GovLab is currently scoping a project with Omidyar Network to build a repository of in-depth, global case studies on existing examples of open data demand, use and impact. The goal of the project is to develop a more nuanced understanding of the various processes and factors underlying the value chain of open data.

As a part of our literature review in undertaking this scoping project, and in time for the 3rd International Open Data Conference, we first mapped several repositories of open data cases and examples that may serve as an empirical foundation for further case-studies.

From at NYU

Findings regarding Open Data in the Open Government Partnership: “Many have predicted that open government data will lead to major gains in political accountability, generate economic value, and improve the quality of government services. Yet, there is a growing consensus among practitioners and experts that, for open data reforms to have strong governance, economic, and social impacts, reforms must do more than make data available and reusable. Government reforms ultimately must aim to provide data that is useful and used. There may be a high opportunity cost to investing in open data in the place of other useful governance reforms….


Perhaps a reason that civic tech has not yet found a prominent place within many community and place-based foundations is the emphasis on "technology." Would civic tech grow faster if "civic engagement" with people were a bigger, more visible part of the process of using and developing technology services to address citizens' civic needs?

"I've found that the framing of 'civic tech' is not immediately resonant with community foundations," says Daniel X. O'Neil, executive director of the Chicago Community Trust's Smart Chicago Collaborative, which is at the forefront of foundations experimenting in this field.


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI), today announced new research findings to help developing countries, social innovators, policy makers and development practitioners identify and address key socio-economic gaps that obstruct advancements in human development.

The UNDP Mobiles for Human Development 2014: Trends and Gaps report compiled and analysed almost 2,500 cases worldwide of practitioners (government institutions, private sector or civil society organisations, and individuals) using mobile technologies to improve the delivery of basic services and information, foster transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors, and enhance human development.

From Pew Charitable Trusts: 

To access the internet, people increasingly use smartphones rather than more cumbersome fixed landline connections and computers. Around the world, both smartphones and basic-feature phones alike are used for sending messages and taking pictures.


This report proposes four overlapping principles that should guide the integrated global accountability framework for the post-2015 process: transparency, inclusiveness, deliberation and responsiveness.


In total for the 4 topics, there were 156 ideas posted and 5494 votes/rankings. 2386 people were invited to participate (all members plus all conference attendees), about about 100 people actively participated. Many more watched, but didn’t jump in.

Some of the ideas NCDDers shared are things that many of us could do, like the #2 idea under the “clearly delineate our field” barrier:

“Create some clear, simple tools and infographics for describing, assessing, and bringing to life dialogue and deliberation work. Identify the good material that is out there already and make it is easy for practitioners or public leaders to use.”

And the top-ranked idea in the “lack of trust” barrier:

“Focus on D&D work at the local level, where engagement efforts are much more likely to influence decisions. Work with public leaders to build/rebuild trust in government decision by decision, from the ground up.”

For example, in a game like Spent, the goal to learn about poverty and personal budgeting is extralusory- it might be a reason to play the game, and it might motivate the player throughout the game, but it is not the goal a player has within the game. And there is typically further nuance where there is a distinction between the goal of the sponsoring organization or group (i.e. to fight poverty) and the goal of an individual player (i.e. to learn about poverty).

The challenge for the game designer, then, is to connect the multiple facets of the extralusor goals(s) with the prelusory goal.