Loukis & Wimmer on Analysing Different Models of Structured Electronic Consultation on Legislation Under Formation

Professor Dr. Euripidis Loukis of the University of the Aegean Department of Information and Communication Systems Engineering, and Professor Maria Wimmer of Universität Koblenz-Landau Institut für Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsinformatik, presented a paper entitled Analysing Different Models of Structured Electronic Consultation on Legislation Under Formation, at OD 2010: The Fourth International Conference on Online Deliberation, held 30 June-2 July 2010, at the Leeds University Business School, in Leeds, England, UK.

Click here for the presentation slides.

Here is the abstract:

Electronic consultation through the Internet has become an important means of e-participation in order to enable interaction and discussion among government agencies and citizens on public policies and decisions. Tools that enhance the quality of electronic consultations need therefore to be designed in a way that better opinions and arguments are produced. Well designed ICT tools can contribute to better, more informed and socially rooted public policies and decisions. This paper analyses two different models of structured electronic consultation in the area of formation of legislation, a highly complex and controversial category of government decisions. The first model is a highly structured e-consultation model based on the Issue-Based Information Systems (IBIS) framework, having as basic elements issues, alternatives, pro-arguments, contra-arguments and comments. The second model is simpler and less structured, having as basic elements questions, answers and comments. Our analysis was based on two pilot cases concerning legislation under formation in Greece and Austria. Evaluation took place using discussion tree analysis and quantitative and qualitative methods.

Here is a summary of the presentation:

Conducted as part of the EU’s LEX-IS project, this research compared “two different models of structured e-consultation on the formation of legislation”: one — more complex and structured, taking the form of “issues-alternatives-arguments-comments” — “based on [the] IBIS framework”; the other “simpler and less structured,” in the form of “questions – answers – comments.” The research was conducted on eConsultations respecting proposed legislation in the parliaments of Austria and Greece.

The authors drew the following conclusions from the research data:

Less sophisticated users with lower levels of education and [fewer] skills and experiences in structured discussions [found] the more structured e-forum[s] … more difficult and demanding and [made] a suboptimal use of them. [The] [m]ain difficulties result[ed] from mental efforts needed in thinking in the highly structured way that such tools impose, in annotating correctly the postings[,] [c]onnecting them to others’ postings and in general using efficiently the ‘discussion language'[.] However, [the more structured e-forums] can facilitate higher quality discussions[.] Highly structured e-consultations require adequate skills, capacities and training of the users. Hence, such highly structured tools may not be the best solution for wider citizen participation, but very good for more sophisticated and knowledgeable citizens. Parliaments are therefore recommended [to] organize e-consultations with a wider public by using simple e-forums, while at the same time they may exploit structured e-forum tools to consult with expert groups relevant for the bills under discussion[.]

For the full text of the paper, please contact the authors.

Thanks to Professor Dr. Loukis for providing the abstract.

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