Open data work: understanding open data usage from a practice lens

Paper by Emma Ruijer in the International Review of Administrative Sciences: “During recent years, the amount of data released on platforms by public administrations around the world have exploded. Open government data platforms are aimed at enhancing transparency and participation. Even though the promises of these platforms are high, their full potential has not yet been reached. Scholars have identified technical and quality barriers of open data usage. Although useful, these issues fail to acknowledge that the meaning of open data also depends on the context and people involved. In this study we analyze open data usage from a practice lens – as a social construction that emerges over time in interaction with governments and users in a specific context – to enhance our understanding of the role of context and agency in the development of open data platforms. This study is based on innovative action-based research in which civil servants’ and citizens’ initiatives collaborate to find solutions for public problems using an open data platform. It provides an insider perspective of Open Data Work. The findings show that an absence of a shared cognitive framework for understanding open data and a lack of high-quality datasets can prevent processes of collaborative learning. Our contextual approach stresses the need for open data practices that work on the basis of rich interactions with users rather than government-centric implementations….(More)”.