Improving the Responsiveness of the Government of Dubai

Subject: Entertainment & Media
Pages: 48
Words: 11622
Reading time:
42 min
Study level: Master

Background

Technology continues to shape everyday life by redefining how people share ideas, critique and implement them. This is particularly true in public governance because social media is a new reality that leaders have become accustomed to as more people are demanding higher levels of accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs (Singer and Brooking, 2018). Indeed, social media has empowered people to advocate for better leadership by giving them a voice in an otherwise elitist sphere of decision-making processes characterized by bureaucracy. In this regard, several advantages associated with positive government-citizen relationships have been linked to social media development (Haro-de-Rosario, Sáez-Martín and del Carmen Caba-Pérez, 2018).

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Besides nurturing relationships, social media is also associated with better service delivery, improved transparency, and service efficiency (Haro-de-Rosario, Sáez-Martín and del Carmen Caba-Pérez, 2018). Consequently, multiple governments around the world are integrating some level of social media engagement in the development of public discourse (Tsatsou, 2018). The importance of social media in promoting good governance is at the cornerstone of this study because it helps governments and people to stay engaged when advancing ideas across different levels of decision-making.

Notably, several research studies have likened the quality of public governance outcomes to the speed of engagements between governments and their subjects (Luo and Harrison, 2019). Similarly, the right to access and share information has been evaluated within the context of understanding the media’s role in promoting good governance (Luo and Harrison, 2019). For example, Pătruț and Pătruţ (2014) investigated the relationship between social media and politics and established that it played a powerful role in influencing political discourse.

The authors also demonstrated its importance in shaping political discourse during campaigns, such as the use of Facebook in the 2012 United States (US) campaigns and the 2011 Turkish general election (Pătrut and Pătruţ, 2014). These pieces of evidence suggest that social media has been used in electoral marketing, organizing riots, and even planning social revolutions. For example, Twitter and the Web 2.0 platform have been used to organize riots and social revolutions, as seen from recent events in Istanbul and Egypt (Pătrut and Pătruţ, 2014).

Based on the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2005, governments also recognize the importance of participatory leadership, which is fostered through social media engagements (Tsatsou, 2018). Consequently, they have committed to supporting accountable leadership through democracy and public participation. Sustainable development goals (SDGs) have also been formulated with this goal in mind because the ability of leaders to engage the public on various issues is important in seeking their support in realizing present SDGs (Singer and Brooking, 2018). Therefore, there is a strong relationship between a vibrant media and good governance. Furthermore, as highlighted by Russmann, Hametner, and Posch (2019), a good relationship between the people and the state is one of the cornerstones of democracy and good leadership. A strong and vibrant media environment moderates this relationship.

Overall, technology and social media has influenced the relationship between citizens and their governments by improving the accessibility of government services to the ordinary citizen. Consequently, authorities have had to redesign their service models to include social media inputs. Such efforts have translated to improved governance and service delivery standards. Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have been spearheading some of these changes.

Research Problem

Historically, governments have engaged the public through traditional media channels, such as television and newspapers. However, with the advent of social media, they are increasingly communicating directly with the electorate through virtual platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. Subject to these developments, governments are supposed to adopt citizen-centric governance models and inclusive public policies because of changing public expectations.

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These are the two core agendas of current progressive administrations. However, it is difficult to make appropriate changes without communicating with citizens through open media platforms. Furthermore, appealing to citizens through social media is still a contentious strategy, as it is still an informal channel of communication. This study addresses this research issue through a case study approach that is premised on investigating the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with the government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness.

Research Gap

Social media has eliminated the bureaucracy associated with citizen-state relations; instead, it gives the electorate informal access to their leaders. With millions of people using this media platform, few researchers have bothered to understand the effects of social media in making government agencies more responsive to the needs of their citizens. To this end, this study adopts a case study approach to investigating the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness.

Research Purpose

As highlighted in this paper, the purpose of the present research is to investigate and evaluate the influence of social media on administrative decision-making and public engagement in Dubai. The analysis will be done through a literature review analysis, an assessment of current policies concerning social media in the UAE, and an analysis of examples and evidence of social media use in other countries. The objectives of the study are to investigate the cases, conduct a comparative analysis of the findings, describe their implications, and provide practical recommendations for improvement. A detailed assessment of the research aim and objectives is provided below.

Research Aim and Objectives

As highlighted in the preceding section, the aim of the study is to investigate the influence of social media on public engagement with the entities of government of Dubai, their administrative decision-making processes, and responsiveness. The study aim will be achieved through the following research objectives:

  1. The conceptualization of this study will be done through a literature review on concepts, theories on social media, vis-à-vis public sector responsiveness;
  2. The contextual understanding of social media’s interface with the Government of Dubai will be carried out through an assessment of the current policies concerning social media in Dubai;
  3. The analysis will be undertaken by reviewing and comparing the examples and evidence to be collected through empirical survey.

The study then intends to provide practical recommendations for improving the social media-government interface and public sector responsiveness in Dubai. The aim and objectives of the study will be addressed by exploring the following research questions.

Research Questions

  1. What are the policies that promote the use of social media in Dubai’s public sector?
  2. What impacts can public participation in social media have in improving responsiveness and public services by the government of Dubai entities?

Importance of Study

The findings of this study have the potential to increase government responsiveness and enhance citizen satisfaction through improved government services. This progress can be built on an improved level of trust between the government of Dubai and its citizens. Evaluating the level of responsiveness of public agencies, vis-a-vis their engagement with the citizenry could also be used as a yardstick for determining the government’s commitment to improving service quality and responsiveness. In this regard, the findings of this study could be used as an internal self-analysis technique for overhauling government services to make them more responsive.

Additionally, this study is important in understanding the changing relationship between the government of Dubai and its people through active social media use by both parties. It is also critical in improving accountability within the emirate’s leadership structure by allowing authorities to be questioned about the effectiveness of government services. Zeng, et al. (2019) support this view by saying that improved quality of citizen engagement is vital in improving government responsiveness. Indeed, through increased public participation across multiple social media platforms, governments can increase the transparency of their decision-making processes, thereby ensuring that political decisions are adapted to citizens’ needs.

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Additionally, investigating the role of social media in improving government responsiveness will help in endearing a state as a legitimate authority because more people will feel engaged and valued when included in the country’s decision-making structure. Social media has an important role to play in realizing these outcomes because it gives all stakeholders an opportunity to engage with one another. In other words, it provides an avenue for people to exchange ideas and debate different issues that affect them. Therefore, the present study seeks to investigate the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with the government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness.

Structure of the Paper and Research Process

Overall, this paper is divided into five key chapters. The first one is the introduction section, which sets the stage for the investigation by highlighting the background of the study, research problem, its aims, objectives and questions. The second section is the literature review chapter, which highlights what other researchers have said about the study area. The resultant gap will be identified and addressed through the implementation of key research approaches that will be highlighted in the third section of the paper, which is the methodology chapter.

The evidence provided in this chapter will be the result of a secondary investigation on the role of social media use in promoting the responsiveness of the government of Dubai. Secondary information will be obtained from published sources, including books, journals, and credible websites.

The review will be done within a mixed-methods framework and the concurrent triangulation method adopted as the preferred research design. Lastly, data will be analyzed using the thematic analysis. It involves identifying patterns from the data, which will be useful in answering the research questions. These findings will be presented and analyzed in the fourth section of the paper, which is the “findings and analysis” chapter. A summary of the main points and their associated recommendations will be provided in the last chapter – conclusion.

Literature Review

Introduction

As highlighted in chapter 1 above, technology and social media have played a key role in shaping state-citizen relationships by improving the level of engagement of both parties. Consequently, governments have adjusted to this change by promoting good governance and enhancing their responsiveness. This outcome is necessitated through increased levels of public engagement because citizens demand more accountability from public agencies through frequent social media communications.

These processes are linked to improved service delivery and customer satisfaction standards. This chapter contains a review of the existing knowledge relating to the use of social media by government agencies to improve their responsiveness in the provision of public services. Key concepts that will be explored in this chapter include e-government, good governance, and responsiveness.

A discussion of key theories, including the alternative media theory, technology acceptance model (TAM) and the unified theory of acceptance will also be provided. Broadly, this chapter will be divided into four key sections. The first one will explore the relationship between social media and government responsiveness and the second one will highlight international case studies and examples of how other governments have used social media to improve their responsiveness.

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This analysis will pave the way for the third section of the literature review, which will provide a contextualized understanding of how the UAE has used social media to improve its responsiveness in the provision of government services. The last section of this chapter will provide a summary of the main findings and identify the gap in the literature that will be filled by the present study.

Understanding the Relationship between Social media and Government Responsiveness

e-Government and Social Media: Concepts and Theories

Before social media, governments relied on virtual communication platforms, such as e-government 2.0, which was developed through the integration of Web 2.0 technologies, into their service delivery models. These platforms were used to facilitate information and content sharing among diverse user groups and hailed for promoting trust, honesty, and transparency in public governance (Obi and Iwasaki, 2015; Khan, 2016). This traditional model of engagement only involved a government’s online presence without effective citizen engagement, or the use of virtual data in problem-solving. Social media engagement comes from this history because it espouses the aforementioned values through interactive content sharing.

Ines (2012) regards the adoption of social media as a wave of technological development in e-government, which is hailed for its distinct feature of allowing bidirectional communication between public authorities and the citizenry. Within this framework of engagement, the internet, and web-based technologies have been adopted to improve government performance and processes. This strategy is a departure from traditional forms of media, such as newspapers and television, which were monolithic. However, the implementation matrix adopted by most governments to embrace social media and other forms of web-based communication is subject to several theoretical frameworks, such as the alternative media theory, technology acceptance model (TAM) and the unified theory of technology acceptance, which are discussed below.

Alternative Media Theory

The alternative media theory suggests that the creation of new channels of communication through social media has diminished the power of the state and traditional media outlets from shaping conventional public discourse on various political issues (Atton, 2015). For example, the initial promise given by proponents of Web 2.0 was the improvement of efficiency standards through a reduction in the number of gatekeepers from the governance service model (Gehl, 2015). Its proponents also argued that doing so would create an opportunity for an ordinary person to participate in government decision-making. These outcomes are yet to be fully realized.

From this promise, different governments have adopted Web 2.0 and other virtual technologies with mixed results. However, their adoption transcends concerns raised by some critics of alternative media who contend that traditional media channels, involving information exchange commercial media and information transmission, were the only versions that could potentially increase citizen engagement (Atton, 2015; Gehl, 2015). Therefore, other forms of media, such as social media, were utopian and bordered on fantasy.

The aforementioned arguments have been discussed within a larger context of understanding the need to adopt one or multiple media forms in the provision of government services. These discussions have also seen proponents of either side of the debate using the merits or demerits of each type of media to diminish each other (Atton, 2015). However, the contemporary model of media use in public governance today is mass media.

Based on its liberal nature, it includes most forms of citizen-government interactions (video, audio, and graphic). The affordability and availability of this type of media have forced some people to rethink their understanding of conventional media and support alternative arguments to reasoning (Gehl, 2015). This paradigm shift stems from the works of notable scholars, such as Geert Lovink, who identified an unquestionable desire to develop other forms of media to improve citizen engagement. Additionally, he posited that this desire often transcends the content that would be shared on the platforms or even who the gatekeepers would be (Gehl, 2015).

Broadly, the alternative media theory suggests new ways of thinking about communication by challenging conventional wisdom associated with traditional media. Although observers have affirmed the potential of social media to create these new paradigms of thought, they are still wary about its potential of abuse through for-profit gains (Atton, 2015).

Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)

The introduction of new technology to improve workplace or government processes is one of the most difficult aspects of virtual integration because people have to be convinced about its usage before they could effectively adopt it as part of their mainstream decision-making tools. The use of social media to provide government services is subject to this reasoning because people have to understand why it is important to their lives before they can embrace it. The acceptance process is often difficult because the public has to be educated about the importance of using new technology to create changes in public service management. Therefore, without a holistic acceptance of such technology, it becomes increasingly difficult to realize positive outcomes.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was developed from the above insights because it explains processes that lead to people’s adoption of new technology from a systems approach perspective. Relative to this assertion, Abramson, Dawson, and Stevens (2015) say that the TAM is one of the more common approaches for explaining how people discover, use and accept new technology in the workplace or public sector management. The actual system use is the desired goal for proponents of TAM and their actions are intended to achieve this objective. The willingness to accept technology is evaluated in terms of a user’s attitude towards its adoption. These attitudes are formed by understanding the general impressions created by the technology on users.

To this end, the TAM is premised on two key approaches of technology usage: its perceived usefulness to the user’s life and ease of use (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015). Fred Davis is one of the key proponents of this view and he argues that the perceived usefulness of technology refers to the extent that users believe it would improve their lives and performance (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015). Stated differently, acceptance is presented as an aggregate assessment of a user’s ability to make judgments regarding the use of technology. The second aspect of adoption, as proposed by Fred Davis, is the perceived ease of using new technology (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015).

It refers to the relative effort people need to use when adopting new technology. Low barriers to usage are registered when there is less effort needed to adopt it. However, when users perceive its use to be complicated or technical, they are likely to have an unfavorable view of it. Advocates of the TAM also argue that social conditions influence people’s attitudes towards technology adoption (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015). Therefore, when the right social conditions are created, it becomes easier to create a favorable environment for adoption. However, demographic factors, such as income levels, gender, and age may moderate the extent of a user’s support for new technology.

Although the TAM has demonstrated its merits as a systems theory for reviewing how people accept new technology, the model has been criticized for its heuristic value (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015). Its limited predictive power has also been cited as another disadvantage associated with the theory because critics believe it shifts the attention away from real issues regarding technology adoption to unquantifiable measures of technological adoption (Abramson, Dawson and Stevens, 2015). In this regard, it is believed that the TAM could create the illusion of progress during the adoption of new technology.

Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT)

The unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) model identifies four major factors that influence people’s behavioral intention to adopt new technology. They include social influence, expectation expectancy, performance targets and facilitation conditions that encourage users to accept new technologies as part of mainstream decision-making (Mensah, 2019). Consequently, the UTAUT model has been used to explain at least 53% of cases involving the acceptance or rejection of technology use in public sector management (Mensah, 2019). However, demographic factors such as age, gender and education levels of the participants often influence this construct.

Performance expectancy is the anticipation that technology will aid in faster decision-making. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is closely linked to this aspect of UTAUT performance because they both explain how people accept information systems management. Comparatively, performance acceptance is often realized when users believe that technology will help them accomplish their tasks faster and more efficiently (Mensah, 2019).

In this regard, the “efforts expectancy” tenet of the UTAUT model shares close similarities with the “perceived ease of use” tenet of the TAM. The social influence of technology is often realized or achieved when one’s social systems support the integration of new technology in their lives. For example, family and friends may have a positive perception of technology, thereby creating the impetus for its adoption. Figure 1 below explains the interactive framework of different elements of the UTAUT model.

UTUAT Model.
Figure 1. UTUAT Model (Source: Mensah, 2019).

The above-mentioned model has been successfully used to explain different aspects of technology adoption through e-government, e-commerce and e-learning development (Mensah, 2019). The justification for its adoption in this study is premised on its widespread use in e-government applications.

Broadly, the use of UTUAT in e-government has been examined in the UAE context and it suggests that unique social constructs of trust, confidentiality, and attitudes towards technology are important predictors of e-government adoption (Mensah, 2019). These attributes contrast with those of users in other countries who are motivated by other constructs in the adoption of e-government services. For example, studies undertaken in Mauritius suggest that performance anxiety and perceived value of technology are the main determinants of e-government adoption in the country (Mensah, 2019).

Good Governance and Responsiveness: Concepts and Theories

The role of governments in improving the welfare of their citizens is a cornerstone of good governance. By definition, the concept relates to the impact that governments create in having a positive or negative outcome on specific programs or courses of action relating to specific public policy matters (Khan, 2016). However, not all governments are responsive to their citizens’ needs. The challenge may be cosmetic or structural, depending on the unique social, political, or economic dynamics of a state.

However, these factors do not erode the common belief that good governance may break or make the relationship that most citizens share with their governments, or how they would remember a specific administration. For example, after the 2007-2008 global economic crash, the American government received significant backlash from its citizens regarding how they managed the economy (Ireland, 2017). It also led to a loss of public trust in government institutions.

Based on such problems, governments are not only faced with the challenge of identifying the right policies to address specific social or economic issues but also grapple with the challenge of finding the most responsive ones. Even when they find the right policies to apply, implementation challenges may emerge, which will influence how the public will receive them (Ireland, 2017). Relative to this challenge, the capacity of governments to function well depends on their willingness to be responsive and effective in the implementation of their agendas and programs (Luo and Harrison, 2019). The trust that citizens have in government institutions is critical to boosting their capacity to address these challenges. In today’s fast-paced society, social media has emerged as a powerful tool that could redefine how governments build this trust.

Role of Social Media in Enhancing Responsiveness

Social media is a rapidly evolving communication platform where users can engage government agencies on various national issues. They refer to a set of web-based applications that allow people to share content through a broader social network involving multiple parties (Tsatsou, 2018). Unlike other forms of content sharing platforms, social media is unique because it allows for real-time communications. Its pervasiveness in society further makes it one of the most powerful tool of engagement between citizens and their governments. Some of the most commonly used social media platforms are Facebook. Instagram, and Twitter.

Their role in enhancing responsiveness was first observed in social media marketing communications where businesses got timely and valuable feedback from their clients regarding their products and services. In line with this observation, consumers can frequently provide organizations with timely feedback to improve their products or services (Singer and Brooking, 2018). More recently, social media has been used by government agencies to improve the efficacy of their programs because its high level of responsiveness allows for more engagements.

However, this area of application has been insufficiently addressed by existing literatures. Furthermore, unique political, social, and economic dynamics of a state play an important role in influencing their responsiveness. However, the context-specific nature of this analysis highlights the need to understand country-specific experiences.

International Examples and Case Studies

Different governments have adopted social media to engage their citizens with varying levels of success in implementation. In this section of the literature review, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States (US) are highlighted as possible examples of how social media has been used to promote public engagement regarding various aspects of political and social governance. A detailed assessment of its use in the aforementioned countries is provided below.

Singapore

Singapore is one of the most progressive states in Asia. It has a parliamentary form of government borrowed from the Westminster model of governance, which gives members of parliament a lot of control in the country’s political governance system (Kozlowska, 2018). This governance model serves about 5 million people who live within the country’s borders, but there have been challenges in making it effective and responsive. To address the challenge, authorities have had to be innovative in the manner they engage the public. The use of social media has emerged as a novel approach for doing so because of the high number of people in Singapore who are actively engaged on this platform. Kozlowska (2018) says that about 66% of the Singaporean population uses at least one form of social media.

When the potential of the internet in boosting social relationships was highlighted in the 1990s, there was a lot of hype in Singapore about how it would change how the government and politicians engage with the people (Atmakuri, 2020). Speculations were correct in the manner they predicted the impact of social media on citizen-government engagement. However, it was difficult to understand the scope of the influence during the initial stages of adoption.

From this background, the Singaporean government has been using social media to engage citizens who would ordinarily not listen to speeches made via television or other forms of traditional media about various national issues.

For example, it has used the communication platform to reduce mass panic about public health crises, such as the recent Corona virus pandemic. Concisely, authorities have been using social media to educate the public about the need to maintain proper hygiene and self-isolate to manage cases of new infections (Atmakuri, 2020). The government has also used social media to update citizens regularly about the pandemic, thereby reducing panic and distress among citizens who may be alarmed by fake reports circulating on other media platforms about its impact on human health and life (Atmakuri, 2020).

For example, in a recent post shared on Instagram, Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, was spotted at a local supermarket assuring residents that the retail outlets would be stocked throughout the pandemic, thereby alleviating concerns that people would run out of food by being forced to stay in their houses (Atmakuri, 2020). From this post, the hoarding of food stopped as the public was assured of its constant supply (Atmakuri, 2020). This recent example shows that social media has been helpful to government authorities to address citizen concerns in real time.

Besides alleviating public health crises, the Singaporean government has also used social media for public engagements and fiscal planning. This statement emanates from a recent report, which showed that the government contracted social media influencers to engage the public on the budget making process (Kozlowska, 2018). To do so, the government sought feedback from its citizens through social media.

In 2018, government agents who contracted social media influencers on Instagram to educate the public about the budgeting process and encourage them to give feedback about it took this action (Kozlowska, 2018). The campaign was effective because in a few days, there were many people who took photos with captions highlighting their concerns about the budget-making process, such as a high inflation rate and poor fiscal planning (Kozlowska, 2018).

Others shared their wedding photos with captions stating how they plan to budget their finances. In some cases, users shared fun facts about the budget-making process, thereby attracting more online engagement to a process that would otherwise be shunned by most Singaporean youth (Kozlowska, 2018). These examples show that authorities have used social media to reach a young population who are increasingly spending more time on this platform more than any other form of traditional media. Relative to this statement, in a recent interview, the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that his initial motivation for engaging in social media was to get in touch with young people who he could not reach through other media platforms (Soon, 2015).

Therefore, together with parliamentarians, the Prime Minister of Singapore uses social media to engage the public and demonstrate the government’s service delivery record through photographs shared on social media platforms and commentaries on similar platforms. These evidences suggest that social media is actively used in Singapore to promote social order and development.

Malaysia

Similar to Singapore, Malaysia is also another progressive country in Asia, which is governed by a federal parliamentary system. However, its population is significantly higher than Singapore’s because it stands at about 30 million people, while Singapore’s population is about 5 million (Soon, 2015).

Malaysia’s high population means that the government has to be innovative in engaging its citizens about various political and governance issues by reaching a growing number of people who are not keen to listen to traditional forms of media, such as newspapers and radio. This gap has led to the use of social media as an alternative communication platform that connects citizens and their government. Indeed, the internet, and by extension social media, has helped Malaysia to stay abreast with other countries in managing their political, economic and governance issues.

Like Singapore, Malaysia, being a multicultural nation, has relied on social media to maintain social order and promote cohesion through a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions on mainstream platforms. According to Peña-Acuña (2017), 66% of Malaysians are online and actively engaged in various social media platforms. The government has been on the forefront in encouraging this growth by taking proactive steps to foster social media engagement.

It is motivated by a vision of making the country a regional hub in information communication technology (ICT) development (Peña-Acuña, 2017). In line with this plan, the government has also taken measures to be paperless and promote internet penetration in remote parts of the country (Peña-Acuña, 2017). The adoption of these strategies provides the backdrop for the active engagement of government on social media to engage citizens on various governance issues.

Malaysia government officials commonly use social media because it allows them to directly engage the electorate. Furthermore, they also get first-hand feedback about their community initiatives, thereby providing a basis for making future improvements (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019). From a public policy standpoint, the Malaysian government has primarily used social media to create awareness about various social issues, such as drug abuse, reduction in accidents and the need to reduce crime (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019). Reports suggest that there have been significant gains made on these fronts because there has been positive public response regarding the aforementioned issues and indicative pieces of evidence show that social media has contributed to increased awareness about these issues within the public (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019).

It was not possible to make such gains in the past because government agencies had to rely on traditional forms of media, such as newspapers and television, to communicate to the public. These modes of communication were slow and had no common or reliable premise for assessing feedback. Social media has provided the Malaysia government with such tools, thereby allowing it to measure feedback and make appropriate changes to their plans.

The positive gains made from social media use in Malaysia have attracted politicians who are increasingly signing up on popular platforms, such as Twitter, to increase their political influence (Peña-Acuña, 2017). For example, the country’s Prime Minister has multiple social media accounts, spread across various platforms, to reach as many people as possible (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019).

Evidence shows that most politicians who have adopted this public engagement approach have gained popularity because of the high rates of social media penetration in the country. The visibility has been positively received by Malaysians because it increases accountability levels among the leaders. Indeed, a politician’s activities could be known in seconds if they post content on social media and questions could be posed to them immediately. Based on their response, the public can make an informed choice regarding whether to continue supporting the official, or not.

The Malaysian government has also used social media to improve public confidence in the government by broadcasting messages of assured safety to its citizens. For example, the government, through the military, has periodically reached out to its citizens, informing them of their security and willingness to confront aggressors (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019). It has also used social media to alleviate fears of war and fear mongering among the Malaysian public, as seen from recent tweets by defense agencies about the possibility of an all-out war with China over the South China Sea (United Nations Public Administration Network, 2019).

Broadly, these examples show that social media has allowed Malaysians to be versed with geopolitical issues and enabled them to be better informed about ongoing political developments that may affect their future. Consequently, social media plays a pivotal role in maintaining public order and increasing the confidence of the citizens about government operations.

United States (US)

The US government is among the leading users of social media for public engagement across the western world. The concept of digital governance has been adopted across all levels of government. A study by Manoharan and Ingrams (2018) suggests that up to 75% of all local governments in the US have a website. Relative to this assertion, Manoharan and Ingrams (2018) say that up to 90% of US government departments posted regularly on their social media platforms. Others are in the process of doing so or reviewing this option as a new way of promoting citizen engagement. Similar to Egypt, US authorities also use social media to convey information to the public. Therefore, there is minimal citizen-to-government engagement on these platforms, at least from a citizen’s perspective. In the US, social media use in the provision of government services has received a lukewarm reception from the citizenry, as there is not much engagement with the public on these matters.

Based on the insights highlighted above, the US’s use of social media for engaging its citizens stands out from the others highlighted in this paper because the government has taken a proactive role in advancing its use. For example, unlike Egypt’s strong citizen-led engagement on social media, America has adopted a government-led approach to social media use. Nonetheless, the adoption of social media use is uneven, as different levels of government have reported varying levels of engagement with users (Manoharan and Ingrams, 2018).

Furthermore, there are still significant gaps in critical service innovation, such as the poor completion of financial transactions on the social media platforms of US government departments. Business and property registration processes have also been mentioned as areas causing frustration for most citizens intending to access government services online (Manoharan and Ingrams, 2018). Why these challenges persist as government authorities try to consolidate their social media presence remains unknown.

Broadly, the US government has adopted social media as part of its strategy to engage citizens on various governance issues. Therefore, the government’s digital strategy is extensively characterized by this goal. In an unofficial capacity, the American government also uses social media as a citizen engagement tool. For example, the US president uses Twitter to discuss national issues. He also uses the platform to comment on social and current issues affecting Americans, including giving his views about international relations, elections, economic performance, and others.

Although contested by some critics, some of the content tweeted by the president haw been assumed to be the official position of the US government. However, an in-depth assessment of the president’s Twitter handle revealed that it contained unverifiable information. In more extreme cases, the president has been threatened with legal action for his Tweets (Manoharan and Ingrams, 2018). This example shows the extensive nature of social media use in providing feedback about elected officials.

In other words, the internet is being used in the US as a political tool. This strategy has led to increased public engagement in some jurisdictions as people give their views on different public interests. Relative to this assertion, Manoharan and Ingrams (2018) say that this type of engagement has heightened the level of citizen engagement, as is evident between Trump and his supporters.

Overall, the nature of social media engagement is that the visibility of a post is commensurate with the popularity of the account. This design structure has given users a lot of power in determining the type of relationship between governments and their followers because users determine what should be the nature of public discourse by causing an issue to be popular, or not. This process happens democratically by allowing users to vote on these issues using likes and retweets. Therefore, the adoption of social media use for public engagement in the US is unique because it helps to determine important issues for prioritization. Government agencies are also actively using it to inform the public about various issues, aided by a favorable attitude of political engagement.

Broadly, based on an assessment of the international examples of social media use highlighted above, the successes or failures of governments in using social media are predicated on the social, political, and economic dynamics of the respective countries analyzed. These influences have a significant impact on the enthusiasm of citizens to participate on various social media platforms and their perception of responsiveness to public needs because social media success is subjective.

The UAE Context of Social Media and Government Responsiveness

The adoption of the e-government 2.0 model by the UAE government was intended to improve efficiency in the provision of government services. About a decade ago, this initiative was adopted as part of a broader set of interventions proposed by Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum to promote sustainable development in the UAE (Obi and Iwasaki, 2015). The Prime Minister also linked this initiative to the improvement of government delivery services, as a natural solution to some of the inherent logistical challenges of service delivery and information exchange in the country (Obi and Iwasaki, 2015).

However, there are glaring gaps in the implementation and integration of e-government Web 2.0 technologies in the UAE, which undermine this goal. Broadly, the government has only managed to achieve a small degree of integration in the areas of information sharing (57%), customer relations (20%), and digital transactions (23%) (Obi and Iwasaki, 2015).

The aforementioned statistics suggest that the UAE government has only achieved a stage three integration level within its wider e-governance model. Gaps in integration have occurred despite the government’s efforts to sensitize the public about participating in the e-government framework. For example, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has stressed the importance of using digital communication strategies to foster public engagement in the management of governance affairs (Obi and Iwasaki, 2015).

His guidelines have necessitated the formulation of social media guidelines to moderate citizen-government engagement on the Web 2.0 platform. However, some departments of the UAE government have not adopted these guidelines fully or are struggling to meet their intended goals. Consequently, there is a need to conduct further investigation in this area of integration as it underscores the nature of the relationship between the UAE government and its people.

Social Media as a Tool to Enhance Public Feedback and Government Responsiveness

Rating Government Services: The Current Context of the UAE and Dubai

Nepal, Paris and Georgakopoulos (2015) investigated the use of social media in the UAE, from a public policy perspective, and found that political leadership played a key role in safeguarding its use. Particularly, the authors suggest that the strong political leadership in the Emirate, especially with the proliferation of virtual communication services by authorities, has contributed to its widespread adoption in Dubai (Nepal, Paris and Georgakopoulos, 2015). Furthermore, while other countries in the Middle East struggle to integrate social media in the provision of government services, Dubai is effectively using its financial resources to build a complex network of ICT infrastructure that allows citizens to communicate with government agencies at multiple points of engagement (Nepal, Paris and Georgakopoulos, 2015).

In this regard, it has been more successful than other Emirates in fostering citizen engagement. Broadly, this section of the study shows that the government of Dubai and the UAE have used social media to enhance public feedback and government responsiveness by encouraging its citizens to rate its services, convey important information to the public, and receive timely feedback from users. These key areas of responsiveness are discussed in-depth below.

Ratings

The UAE government has used social media to rate and improve government services. For example, in one of the tweets, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s posted a scorecard of government services showing which areas were rated poorly and highly (Zayed, 2018). He also reiterated his commitment to making sure citizens received satisfactory government services. In line with this view, in one of the tweets, he said, “There are five entities that scored 60 percent. This is unacceptable” (Zayed, 2018, p. 2). This statement conveyed his expectations on the performance of government officers and his conviction to work for the needs of citizens. Through this assessment, social media emerges as a platform for fostering transparent communication not only between the government and its citizens but also between the ruler and government employees. Therefore, social media is an active platform of engagement that stems from the highest authority on the land.

Anderson (2016) highlights this type of social media use as a form of engagement platform where governments have an opportunity to start conversations and obtain intelligence from the public inexpensively. Owing to its potential to reach a wide audience, social media in the UAE emerges as a cost-effective way of gathering knowledge from the public. By fostering interactions on the platform, social media lends itself well to audience participation.

For example, when one person sees a tweet, he or she may retweet it to friends and gather more intelligence. For example, in the case of the mysterious teacher highlighted above, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum received valuable feedback about the mentioned person when users started reacting to his stories and sharing their experiences with the same person. Concisely, one of the people who identified the unnamed woman mentioned her name as “Mama Sheikha.” In one of the tweets, she said,

“This is Mama Sheikha. I remember once I came to school and we had a trip to Al Hilli Park and I did not get the money for the trip. I was about to go back home when she saw me and she took me by the hand, paid for the fees and bought me snacks like all the other students. It happened seven years ago and I still till remember it today” (Al Shurafa, 2020, p. 2).

In another tweet, another person recounted how the same teacher came to school and looked after the sick students by accompanying them until their guardians picked them (Al Shurafa, 2020). It was also revealed that she could go out of her way and transport children to their homes if their parents became busy or could not come to pick their children (Al Shurafa, 2020). Besides getting this valuable information about the teacher, users also tagged HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on her Twitter account. Eventually, the two linked and she was rewarded for her positive contribution to society (Al Shurafa, 2020).

The above-mentioned statement suggests that social media is a powerful tool for engaging the public because the government was not only able to identify the mysterious woman but also get additional information about her good deeds. Therefore, the government uses social media to provide valuable information to authenticate claims made on unverifiable platforms and get additional intelligence about an issue of interest. Based on these findings, the ruler of Dubai emerges as one of the most accessible public servants despite being the head of government services. He uses his social media platforms to engage the public about pressing issues and communicates to them on the same platform about the response he has received from his officers.

Therefore, engagement through his twitter account is collaborative and two-sided because citizens can reach the ruler and he can communicate to them if need be. Furthermore, he can assess the level of engagement from his social media platforms by tracking the number of likes, tweets, and retweets on his posts. Using the same platform, he can also communicate with government officers about what needs to be done to improve government services. Therefore, people can see how he engages his officers through his Twitter platform, thereby increasing accountability in the provision of government services.

Feedback

The use of social media to improve government responsiveness through public feedback can be analyzed through HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Twitter activities. He has used this media platform to update his constituents about what the government is doing to improve the provision of government services and receive feedback from citizens about the same issue. For example, he recently used Twitter to convey the government’s vision of creating an environment where people can be happy. The actual Tweet read, Our ultimate goal as a government is for happiness as a way of life” (Anderson, 2016, p. 5).

Through the online media platform, he reiterated his government’s commitment to instilling happiness and positivity in society. Through a series of tweets, the ruler of Dubai also conveyed how government ministries are mandated to abide by this vision. In this regard, the Prime Minister of the UAE has used social media to share information about the government’s vision and how it is connected to the fulfillment of the citizen’s goals – the pursuit of happiness (Anderson, 2016).

In terms of public engagement, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Twitter account emerges as one of the most active among other leaders in the region because citizens report incidences about government laxity in the provision of government services to him directly. For example, in 2019, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, through his Twitter account – @HHShkMohd, acknowledged receipt of a photo showing citizens waiting in line for services at a government post. He responded by saying the corporation’s leader needed to improve its performance or be fired from his government (Zayed, 2018).

Using the same platform, the head of government also gave the UAE citizens an update on the progress he made after following up on the aforementioned issues through a series of tweets demonstrating a high level of commitment towards promoting efficiency in the provision of government services. In one of the Tweets, he said,

“We sent a team to verify the level of Emirates Post services in one of their centers. “The team returned with this report. I put it in front of everyone with transparency. I say to everyone in the government – nothing will transparently pass without follow-up” (Zayed, 2018, p. 3).

The above-mentioned update led to a reduction in waiting time at the Emirates Post to only 11 seconds (Tesorero, 2019). Some observers also said there was improved efficiency in processing financial transactions (Tesorero, 2019). This example shows that the UAE government is actively using social media to improve government responsiveness to local issues facing Emiratis.

Besides getting feedback about various government programs, the UAE government also uses social media to get information from the public about its people. For example, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has used his Twitter handle to seek the public’s assistance in identifying a mysterious teacher who treated her children kindly by greeting them with honor and reminding them to be happy (Al Shurafa, 2020). The ruler wanted the public to help identify the person because he wanted to reward her for being an exemplary citizen. Such acts of kindness are characteristic of the government’s use of social media because they encourage citizens to be kind and good to others.

The UAE government’s use of social media also involves getting feedback from the public regarding various government programs and initiatives. This information is used to recalibrate the government’s response and influence resource allocation programs. For example, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum took to his Twitter account to inform the public about a new application termed “UAE Mystery Shopper” that sought the public’s views about how to improve government services (Khan, 2020).

Social media helped to achieve this objective by allowing authorities to evaluate the services and effectiveness of its programs, as offered in multiple languages. Through this platform, UAE citizens were required to give their views about service providers and delivery centers with the view to improve the quality of public goods and services offered.

Social media also allows UAE citizens to rate their experiences, receive government services in terms of employee attitudes, waiting times, reception of visitors, parking spaces and such-like evaluation criteria. Through this platform, the UAE government engages its citizens on service delivery standards (Khan, 2020). More importantly, the existence of social media has forced government employees to work better and more efficiently because they know someone could report them to authorities.

Therefore, social media has increased the government’s responsiveness to issues that affect citizens. Additionally, it has created vigilance, transparency, and accountability in the manner government workers conduct their work. Particularly, social media has increased the threat of someone documenting poor service and posting it online to get the attention of the public and relevant authorities. Social media has eliminated such barriers to communication, as demonstrated in the examples highlighted in this review. Therefore, employees are motivated to work better and more efficiently towards satisfying the needs of the public. The by-product is a people-centered public service delivery model where the experiences of the public are prioritized.

Conveying Important Information

The UAE government has also used social media to improve its responsiveness by communicating important information relating to various matters of public interest. For example, through his Twitter account, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum warned citizens about the dangers of misusing social media and spreading falsehoods (Al Serkal, 2019). For example, he cautioned against using the UAE name to gain followers or pursue selfish interests.

Following an in-depth assessment of tweets generated by the UAE government and that highlight the need to protect national values through online engagements, social media emerges as a powerful tool for educating the public about governance issues. For example, from the above-mentioned case, social media allowed HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to communicate the need to safeguard national interests by encouraging the responsible use of social media. This action suggests that the media platform is a powerful tool of communication for the UAE government.

The UAE government also uses social media as a tool for promoting public participation. For example, before it makes decisions on various national issues that require citizen input, they contact them via social media to get their views. For example, an article by Nasrallah (2019) shows how the government sought the views of its citizens regarding a preferred logo that should be used to represent the country for the next 50 years. Users were told to vote for their preferred logo after being shown four options with different characteristics. The voting process led them to identify a preferred logo for use as the country’s national brand.

The government has also tactfully used social media to advance social, economic and environmental conservation by rewarding users for voting or engaging in public participation (Nasrallah, 2019). For example, Emiratis who voted for the country’s preferred logo received an assurance that for every vote cast the government would plant one tree in their honor (Nasrallah, 2019). While this reward seems reasonable, it highlights the tactics used by the UAE government to address social issues through social media engagement. In this regard, it is being used as a tool to advance or promote environmental conservation while receiving feedback at the same time.

The feedback received from engaging people on social media is overwhelming because discussions have emerged from simple tweets posted by government departments and officials regarding different matters posted online. For example, the above-mentioned example encouraging UAE citizens to be more patriotic stirred debate from institutions, ministers, observers, and analysts alike about the conduct of social media users and possible solutions that could be adopted to address the issue (Al Serkal, 2019). These debates have also allowed people to share ideas on how to improve online engagement and make them attractive to all. Coupling it with service provision is a welcome concept because citizens are open to using the media platform to improve governance and public order.

Findings from Literature Review

This literature review has shown that social media is a powerful tool used by governments to share information and get the public’s views on different governance issues. International examples and case studies were provided and they included a review of social media use in Singapore, the US, and Malaysia. Similar to the US, social media elicited much engagement between the public and the governments of Singapore and Malaysia. However, the level of engagement could improve through more relaxed regulations surrounding social media use. However, the US and the UAE had better responses to social and political issues highlighted on social media, compared to the other two cases studies mentioned.

In both countries, their leaders freely engaged with citizens on Twitter, which is their preferred social media platform. Indeed, both Donald Trump, who is the current president of America, and HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, were freely accessible online and frequently engaged their followers by discussing various issues affecting society. Therefore, their social media engagement and responsiveness records were higher than the other two countries analyzed – Singapore and Malaysia.

However, their findings are indicative and broad to the extent that they do not provide a contextual assessment of citizen-government relationships beyond one social media platform. Furthermore, the localized arguments highlighted in this chapter relate to the UAE in general and do not exclusively focus on Dubai, which is the case study. Therefore, the two research questions guiding this study and which focus on Dubai are inadequately addressed. Consequently, there is a research gap premised on understanding the responsiveness of the UAE government on social media in Dubai, as one of the most developed and progressive Emirates in the UAE.

An in-depth analysis is required, beyond a review of social media engagements, between the UAE citizens and HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Twitter platform. The present study seeks to fill this research gap by investigating the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with the Government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness. The theoretical framework for this report will have three main pillars:

  • the emergence of social media as a powerful communication tool
  • the need for governments to adjust to this change by promoting good governance and enhanced responsiveness and
  • increased levels of public engagement, as citizens demand more accountability through social media platforms.

These processes are linked to improved service delivery and customer satisfaction standards.

Methodology

This chapter highlights techniques used to answer the research questions. To recap, the present study is designed to investigate the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with the Government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness. From this background, two research questions were formulated. They focused on investigating policies that promote the use of social media in enhancing citizen engagement with government of Dubai entities and establishing the impact that the active integration of social media will have on the responsiveness of the government of Dubai in the provision of public services.

This chapter highlights the different methodologies adopted by the researcher to answer the aforementioned questions. They include a description of the research approach, research design, research processes and ethical implications of the study.

Research Approach

This study’s focus on citizen feedback highlights the quantitative aspect of the research investigation because information obtained from social media is mainly reviewed quantitatively through site visits, data traffic and similar measures of responses. These insights demonstrate that the research focus was complex and it necessitated the use of an accommodative research approach. To recap, this study aims to investigate the role of social media in promoting citizen engagement with the government of Dubai entities, thereby improving their responsiveness. As an engagement platform, social media use has both qualitative and quantitative attributes because how the public perceives content is qualitative, while feedback received on such platforms (such as the number of retweets and likes) is quantitative.

The mixed-methods framework provides a basis for integrating both aspects of data collection. Therefore, the mixed methods approach provided the researcher with a platform for analyzing numerical data (quantitative) and the underlying reasons for their generation (qualitative). This type of reasoning made it possible to have a holistic understanding of the research issue as it generated complete evidence. Therefore, instead of only using one research approach, it was possible to elucidate the complexity of the research problem.

Research studies are often reliant on the use of qualitative or quantitative data. Qualitative information relates to subjective variables in a study, while quantitative data is linked to quantifiable variables. These research approaches are often applied differently, depending on the context of research data and variables under investigation (Edwards and Brannelly, 2017). To this extent of analysis, a review of the role of social media in assessing the government’s responsiveness necessitated the use of both techniques in a mixed methods research framework.

The approach involves the integration of qualitative and quantitative data during analysis. This technique was adopted in the study because the research questions had both qualitative and quantitative features. For example, the responsiveness of social media users to the government’s messages is a subjective issue because different demographic factors have varying levels of access to social media and can respond to different types of content uniquely. Furthermore, the focus on social media responsiveness in Dubai, as a leading Emirate in the UAE, is a qualitative issue because the political social and economic dynamics of the jurisdiction are different from those of other Emirates. Therefore, it may be different to extrapolate the findings associated with the government of Dubai across other Emirates.

Research Design

The mixed-method research approach is associated with six research designs: concurrent nested, sequential explanatory, sequential exploratory, concurrent triangulation sequential transformative and concurrent transformative techniques (Research Rundowns, 2019). The sequential explanatory design prioritizes the collection of quantitative data as opposed to qualitative information because the latter is used only to interpret quantitative findings. The sequential exploratory approach adopts the inverse approach whereby qualitative data collection is prioritized and quantitative findings only used to interpret the pieces of information generated from the qualitative analysis. This type of research design is commonly used in research investigations with subjective themes (Research Rundowns, 2019).

The sequential transformative technique does not prefer either type of data (qualitative or quantitative) because it gives power to the researcher to choose whichever technique fits their theoretical purpose of the investigation (Research Rundowns, 2019). From this approach, both qualitative and quantitative data are integrated into the final phase of analysis. The concurrent triangulation technique is another research design linked to the mixed methods approach.

It uses both qualitative and quantitative data to cross-validate each other (Research Rundowns, 2019). The concurrent triangulation of data allows researchers to overcome the weaknesses of one technique with the strengths of another. Therefore, the design is a self-corrective model of data generation and analysis. Alternatively, the concurrent nested technique adopts the same principles as those of the concurrent triangulation model, except that one approach is prioritized, while the other is “nested” in the analysis (Research Rundowns, 2019).

The purpose of this nested approach to data analysis is to answer an unrelated question or analyze data across multiple levels of analysis. Lastly, the concurrent transformative method gives priority to the overriding theoretical basis of a research investigation as the main basis for the application of other methodological choices (Research Rundowns, 2019). Therefore, it is commonly used to analyze a theoretical perspective across multiple levels of analysis.

The concurrent triangulation technique was used as the main research design for the mixed methods approach because quantitative data was used to cross-validate qualitative information. This iterative method of data analysis was adopted because the research aim was dichotomous as social media was contrasted with the feedback obtained on the same platform to measure responsiveness. Broadly, the responsiveness of citizens towards social media activity was quantitative while the role it played in the political, social and economic development of the emirate was qualitative. Therefore, both sets of data sufficiently cross-validated each other and as highlighted in this review, the strengths of one technique were used to overcome the weaknesses of another.

Research Process

This section of the chapter highlights the processes adopted by the researcher in collecting and analyzing the findings. The analysis will involve a review of data collection and analysis techniques.

Data Collection

The data collection process refers to techniques adopted by a researcher to obtain information for a study. In this review, the right choice for data collection was underpinned by the need to obtain, relevant, timely, valuable, reliable and inexpensive information. The selection criterion was also pegged on the ability of available information to answer the research questions highlighted above. According to Edwards and Brannelly (2017), data can be collected through primary or secondary methods. Each technique has unique qualities, depending on the procedures used to collect data.

The decision to select the most appropriate data collection method was informed by multiple factors predicated on the scope of the investigation, allocated time available for completing the research process and resources available to the researcher.

The scope of the study emerged as the main basis for deciding the best technique to use in collecting data. Particularly, the wide scope of government services offered in Dubai dictated the kind of data that could be used to understand the role of social media in citizen engagement. This realization justifies the use of secondary data to conduct the research investigation because it was difficult to obtain primary information across all points of social media engagements between the government of Dubai and its citizens. Stated differently, it was impossible to evaluate government responsiveness across all sectors of the UAE government operations using social media. Therefore, information was sought from secondary data.

The difficulty of accessing reliable data from government departments regarding social media engagements also made it difficult to get primary information for analysis. Indeed, most UAE government departments have bureaucratic procedures and data confidentiality guidelines that made it difficult for the researcher to get valuable information. The same is true for the government of Dubai because it has local laws and procedures for information access that make it difficult for someone to access data within a short time. Therefore, the only other channel for getting information is through openly available content that is displayed in government websites, its publications, and industry reviews.

Emphasis was made to collect only credible research information from the secondary data analysis process. Additionally, the researcher only sourced data from credible websites, books, and journals. These research materials were obtained from several online databases, including Google Scholar, Google Books, Emerald Publishing and Sage Journals. The keywords used in the data search strategy were “social media,” “government response,” “Dubai” and “UAE.” Initially, 466 articles were obtained from this search process, but they were further scaled down to 27 after excluding materials that were older than five years and those that did not meet the above-mentioned inclusion criterion. The motivation for doing so was to remain with only updated and relevant information.

The use of secondary data helped to reduce the time involved in completing this research process, thereby allowing the researcher to meet scheduled milestones. This advantage could not have been realized if a primary research investigation was conducted, as it would have involved lengthy data collection processes. Secondary data also made it possible to access vast amounts of data relating to the adoption of social media as a tool of engagement for Dubai’s government departments.

The vastness of information collected also supported the generalization of research findings across the Emirate of Dubai. Edwards and Brannelly (2017) support this view by saying that secondary data obtained from large populations may be highly credible and representative of a diverse population. Therefore, the repetition of research processes and wastages are minimized as a researcher is only focused on conducting in-depth investigations as opposed to spending additional resources on undertaking investigations that are rooted in extant literature.

Data Analysis

Based on the adoption of the mixed methods framework and the concurrent triangulation technique, which is highlighted as the research design, the researcher came up with qualitative and quantitative findings from the secondary data analysis. These two sets of findings were integrated into the data analysis phase to explore how they helped to address the research questions.

The two sets of data were integrated using the thematic and coding method, which involves identifying patterns of findings that collectively help to address a research problem (each article was analyzed according to how it contributed to unique themes of investigation), clustering data into groups linked to the research questions. In other words, for every publication analyzed, the researcher sorted them out based on their relationship with either of the research questions.

A code was assigned to each publication to ease the identification process. Code “1” highlighted studies that were associated with increased engagement on public media, while code “2” was assigned to articles that aimed to promote the responsiveness of the government of Dubai on its social media platforms. Broadly, the researcher followed six key steps in examining the data. They included becoming familiar with the quantitative and qualitative findings, generating themes from the two sets of data, coding them into distinct groups that would help to answer each research question, reviewing the themes, defining and naming them, coding and writing the final report, as suggested by Nowell et al. (2017).

The thematic analysis was used as the preferred research method because it supports the research approach – a mixed-methods framework. According to Nowell et al. (2017), this technique aligns with the thematic method because the latter provides a communication framework for both qualitative and quantitative findings. It also adheres to the principles of the research design (concurrent triangulation method) because it enforces the cross-validation framework linked to this approach. Stated differently, the communicative framework for quantitative and qualitative findings highlighted above integrated well with the cross-validated framework of the concurrent triangulation design.

Ethical Considerations

It is important to understand ethics in research to protect the integrity of the data reported. Dixon and Quirke (2018) supported this view when they said that this aspect of the methodology is central in protecting the common values and social norms of research studies. Relative to this assertion, Dixon and Quirke (2018) add that, based on the intransient nature of academic research investigations, researchers are required to be aware of ethical issues that could affect their research work. For example, the ethical issues present in research data that uses human subjects to generate empirical findings may be different from those that would be applied in a study that uses secondary data.

Secondary research has been linked to a few ethical implications because of the lack of human subjects in research (Edwards and Brannelly, 2017). While this is true for this paper, the researcher observed several ethical principles as outlined by the university. The first one is the need for proper citation of all sources used. Credit was given to authors whose works were used in the study and none of the publications required special permission. Doing so meant that privacy and copyright laws were respected. Secondary data that contained private and sensitive data were also omitted from the final list of publications analyzed. This action was aimed at safeguarding the anonymity and sensitivity of the information obtained in the reports.

Ethical Limitations

As alluded to in this study, researchers often encounter several ethical issues in the course of gathering or analyzing data. This experience is part of a larger quest to abide by several ethical principles that should be observed in research studies. Typically, the desire to “do no harm” underscores their application because researchers are supposed to protect the welfare of their respondents and the integrity of the research process. They often do so through the “maximization of good,” as the overriding philosophy. However, contextual challenges may make it difficult to apply this approach correctly. Consequently, a research investigation may be affected by limitations of ethical conduct.

In the context of this review, the main ethical limits that were relevant to the study related to the nature of secondary data and the quality of the findings presented in them. Stemming from this link it is assumed that the original authors of secondary research articles used in this paper adhered to common ethical rules involving data collection and analysis. For example, the use of human subjects, requesting consent to participate in a study, anonymity of responses among other ethical considerations in research should have been observed by scholars who used human subjects in their empirical investigations.

It is also assumed that the authors of the research articles used in this paper followed all reasonable ethical procedures when formulating their findings, such as doing no harm and avoiding deceptive practices. This assumption guided the use of secondary research data because it was not possible to obtain consent from the respondents directly. To this end, the present study complied with all relevant ethical principles in data collection and analysis.

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