Academic Workshop: Platformization in the Public Sector

I am pleased to be on the programme committee of the following workshop!

Platformization in the Public Sector


Margunn Aanestad, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway
Miria Grisot, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway
Tomas Lindroth, Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

This workshop targets digital infrastructures in the public sector and focuses on the emergence of platforms as a distinct technological and organizational form. The platform ecosystem has emerged as a dominant technological form for global innovative organizations (Baldwin and Woodward, 2009; Tiwana, 2013). It represents the current “best practice” to deal with the complexity of digital infrastructures as well as to leverage dynamics of multi-sided markets and exploit network effects. Platforms are adaptable, scalable and extensible to many other parties and represent an alternative to an integrated collection of “silo systems”.

Public sector organizations around Europe are introducing platforms as part of their digital strategies, but we still have a limited understanding of the challenges associated with establishing platforms in the public sector (Fishenden & Thompson, 2013; Brown et al., 2017). Current research has mainly addressed platforms in the commercial sector (Parker et al., 2016). While the insights from this existing research are highly relevant, there are also important areas where the digital infrastructures can be expected to differ: The technical, regulatory and organisational complexity in the public sector is much higher than for commercial platforms. Multiple different public sector organisations at different government levels are involved in information flows and data custody. The development of national and regional solutions is usually undertaken as joint endeavour between public and private actors, to stimulate socio- economic benefits and innovation, involving a diverse portfolio of systems and registers. Furthermore, the role of the citizens not as mere service recipients but as contributors and co- creators is becoming more central while security concerns, government ́s responsibility for citizens ́ privacy and citizens ́ demand for transparent use of data are rising (Linders, 2012; Nam, 2012).

In addition, the business models of a public sector platform will be different (Bygstad & D’Silva, 2015). The network effects of platform ecosystems (i.e. the self-reinforcing process where more customers trigger more suppliers, which attracts more customers, and so on) may be facilitated in public sector platforms but towards different aims than the ones found in market situation. Monetising network effects is not a key interest for public sector platforms but rather, leveraging network effects for mobilising more resources from inside and outside public organisations and triggering decentralised innovation is a key interest (Vassilakopoulou et al., 2017). Network effects that can contribute to better synergizing rather than competing are of interest in the public sector domain and need to be better understood.

This workshop seeks to address this lack of theorizing specifically to these concerns. The themes include but are not limited to:

  • Business models of a public-sector platform
  • The network effects of public sector platforms
  • Network effects of synergizing rather than competing in the public sector domain
  • How platforms shift work practices of public sector professionals with the inclusion of citizens
  • Empirical studies of platformization, including the gradual process of establishing a platform
  • How technical and organizational structures and governance regimes shape and are shaped by thespecific public sector context
  • The role of the citizens not as mere service recipients but as contributors and co-creators
  • Security concerns, government ́s responsibility for citizens ́ privacy and citizens ́ demand fortransparent use of data
  • Identify core requirements for a platformization strategy that may increase sustainability of public sector platforms
  • Develop theory of public sector platforms that is attentive to the technical, regulatory and organizational specificity of this context
  • Develop process theory on “platformization” that describes key steps and core challenges in the building of platforms and surrounding eco-system
  • Develop theory on the interdependencies between architectural (technical) design, organizational forms, and governance regimes

We seek to contribute to the research as indicated above, and to formulate insights on how public sector platform and surrounding ecosystems develop, can be studied, designed, and theorized.

Plan for publications

In parallel with the consideration of this proposal we have anitiated an application to a relevant IS journal for a special issue on the topic of platforms in the public sector.

Target audience and expected attendance

The workshop aims to attract researchers and practitioners who are interested in the topics of digital infrastructures, public sector, platform ecosystems and e-government. In the workshop, participants will share their knowledge about cases of public sector platforms and digital infrastructures. We want to reach out in order to establish a community of researchers that can cooperate beyond the event itself. We seek to build on and extend the efforts of an ongoing, but not yet formalized, collaborative network of European researchers.

Deadline Dates: 

  • Call opens: 22nd of January.  Authors are invited to submit short papers, not exceeding seven pages (including all figures, tables and references.) using the ECIS Research In Progress template.
  • Submission Deadline: April 4th, 2018. Articles are submitted via e-mail.
  • Notification to Authors: May 4th, 2018.
  • Deadline for Final Papers: June 4th, 2018
  • Date of the workshop: 25th of June
  • Submit to:




Baldwin, C., and Woodard, C. J. 2009. “The Architecture of Platforms: A Unified View,” in Platforms, Markets and Innovation, A. Gawer (ed.). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Brown, A., Fishenden, J., Thompson, M., & Venters, W. (2017). Appraising the impact and role of platform models and Government as a Platform (GaaP) in UK Government public service reform: towards a Platform Assessment Framework (PAF). Government Information Quarterly.

Bygstad, B., & D’Silva, F. (2015). Government as a platform: a historical and architectural analysis. In NOKOBIT (Norsk konferanse for organisasjoners bruk av IT), 2015.

Fishenden, J and Thompson, M. (2013), Digital government, open architecture, and innovation: why public sector IT will never be the same again, Journal of public administration research and theory, 23 (4), 977-1004.

Linders, D. (2012), From E-Government to We-Government: Defining a Typology for Citizen Coproduction in the Age of Social Media, Government Information Quarterly, 29 (4), 446-454.

Nam, T. (2012), Suggesting frameworks of citizen-sourcing via Government 2.0, Government Information Quarterly, 29 (1), 12-20.

Parker, G. G., Van Alstyne, M. W., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). Platform revolution. How networked markets are transforming the economy and how to make them work for you. WW Norton & Company.

Tiwana, A. (2013), Platform ecosystems: aligning architecture, governance, and strategy. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Vassilakopoulou P., Grisot M., Jensen TB., Sellberg N., Eltes J., Thorseng AA, and Aanestad M. (2017) Building National eHealth Platforms: the Challenge of Inclusiveness, Thirty Eighth International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2017, South Korea.


Image (cc) Gary Hatch3112 – with thanks!)

Government as a Platform – an assessment framework

I’m pleased that my paper with Alan Brown, Jerry Fishenden and Mark Thompson has been published in Government Information Quarterly today! The paper draws together our collective work on platforms and government IT to develop an assessment framework for GaaP (Government as a platform). We then evaluate recent UK government’s digital projects using the framework.

Cover image Government Information Quarterly

“Appraising the impact and role of platform models and Government as a Platform (GaaP) in UK Government public service reform: Towards a Platform Assessment Framework (PAF)”

Alan Brown, Jerry Fishenden, Mark Thompson, Will Venters


The concept of “Government as a Platform” (GaaP) (O’Reilly, 2009) is coined frequently, but interpreted inconsistently: views of GaaP as being solely about technology and the building of technical components ignore GaaP’s radical and disruptive embrace of a new economic and organisational model with the potential to improve the way Government operates – helping resolve the binary political debate about centralised versus localised models of public service delivery. We offer a structured approach to the application of the platforms that underpin GaaP, encompassing not only their technical architecture, but also the other essential aspects of market dynamics and organisational form. Based on a review of information systems platforms literature, we develop a Platform Appraisal Framework (PAF) incorporating the various dimensions that characterise business models based on digital platforms. We propose this PAF as a general contribution to the strategy and audit of platform initiatives and more specifically as an assessment framework to provide consistency of thinking in GaaP initiatives. We demonstrate the utility of our PAF by applying it to UK Government platform initiatives over two distinct periods, 1999–2010 and 2010 to the present day, drawing practical conclusions concerning implementation of platforms within the unique and complex environment of the public sector.


  • Platform;
  • Ecosystem;
  • Government as a Platform;
  • GaaP;
  • Digital Government

Image: Maurice via Flickr (CC BY) with thanks!