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Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management
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Article citation: Marijn Janssen, (2010) "Guest editorial", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 4 Iss: 3, pp. -
About the Guest Editor
Marijn Janssen is an Associate Professor within the Information and Communication Technology Section of the Technology, Policy and Management Faculty of Delft University of Technology and is the Director of the interdisciplinary Systems Engineering, Policy Analyses and Management (SEPAM) Master programme and manages the “IT and business architecture” executive programme of Toptech. His research interests include digital infrastructures, agent-based and service-oriented architectures and designing the architecture and orchestration of networked public and private organizations. He is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Electronic Business Research (IJEBR), International Journal of E-Government Research (IJEGR) and Government Information Quarterly (GIQ). He is chairing a mini-track at the HICCS conference since 2003, e-government track chair at AMCIS2010 and conference chair at IFIP EGOV2010. He has published over 160 conference papers, book chapters and journals. More information can be found at: www.tbm.tudelft.nl/marijnj
It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you to the third issue of the fourth volume of Transforming Government: People, Process, and Policy (TGPPP). This special issue is dedicated to the emerging area of shared services.
Shared services have gained considerable attention in e-government over the last decade. With the rise of shared services in public administration, research in this field has also grown substantially. The basic characteristic of shared services is that services that were formerly developed and sourced in isolation are now shared by several users. In the current economic climate, which is dominated by savings and efficiency improvements, the idea of shared services is often mentioned as a solution to reduce costs. This depicts a change in policy in which semi-autonomously government organizations are required to share their services with other organization. Among others, the UK and Dutch governments are moving in this direction and estimates of savings include billions for both countries. Although there are many promises, reality often shows another view. The introduction of shared services requires a change trajectory that involves many stakeholders and should result in process transformations to realize the promises. Shared services require intensive collaboration among organizations and changes in responsibilities and accountabilities. Motives and intents that form the motivation to turn to shared services are often more difficult to realize than initially assumed. Furthermore, there is no single business model for a shared service centre (SSC) or shared service organization (SSO). Although SSCs and SSOs are often viewed as a certain type of business model, in fact this type of arrangement refers to a variety of different models.
This issue of TGPPP contributes to our understanding of the different aspects of shared services. Five papers discussing various aspects of shared services are included in this special issue. Readers are strongly recommended to read all papers because it is important to understand the different views on shared services, with each complementing the other.
The first paper, by Veit Schulz and Walter Brenner, presents definitions and characteristics of the term “SSC” by providing an overview of relevant literature. A common understanding is derived with the help of SSC characteristics frequently mentioned. Furthermore, important differences in definitions are highlighted and their implications for the SSC concept are shown.
The paper “Characteristics of a successful shared services centre in the Australian public sector” by Mark Borman proposes a structured framework that will form the basis for identifying a series of characteristics associated with a successful SSC. Multiple characteristics were found as important influencers of SSCs. An enterprise resource planning system was seen as key to realising cost reductions through economies of scale and process improvements.
Anton Joha and Marijn Janssen investigate three different ways of sourcing and compare their strategic intents and motives. The arrangements of SSC, outsourcing and public-private partnerships are compared by investigating three cases. A large number of interrelated factors are found as drivers for selecting the various sourcing arrangements. Although the strategic intents differ for each sourcing arrangement, the differences are small in comparison to the larger differences among these three arrangements.
The fourth paper by Frank Ulbrich investigates how the shared service management idea is translated into organization reality. The mutual impact of process, people and policies influences the adoption of the shared services management idea. These factors transform the general management idea of shared services into a specific configuration reflecting the organization’s individual conditions. The findings of this paper highlight the way in which an SSC could be implemented and that it might vary based on the specific circumstances.
Bjoern Niehaves and Andreas Krause investigate multiple case studies in local government. They make an important differentiation between the business models of SSCs and the shared service networks. They provide preconditions for shared services to emerge, including cost pressure as a driver, the existence of key actors for initiating the change and the existence of prior cooperation among participants.
The five papers in this issue show that this field of shared services in public administration is a growing area gaining more attention of researchers and practitioners, alike. Whereas the first paper in this field only appeared a short while ago, it has gained momentum. Various aspects, views and dimensions of shared services are now investigated by researchers from many countries. Although the papers in this issue contribute to theory development, most of them are still explorative in nature. The theories used are taken from other areas and translated to analyze shared services. In further research, specific theories in this area should be developed and research should go beyond merely using a limited number case study as the main research instrument. We are convinced that this special issue makes an important contribution by bundling five papers tackling various aspects of shared services.