6.1. Adaptation to Roles

The roles of career bureaucracy in public policy-making, particularly in policies and strategies related to Knowledge Societies, are prestigious, but they also constitute an issue of contradictory and differing interpretation, practice, and direction. While higher public servants have always played a major part in shaping public policy, the extent of their involvement has subsided and flowed in response to legal, structural, and political changes at the macro-regional, federal, state, and local government levels.

This Handbook contemplates the governmental officers and civil servants of the national or local state structures (sometimes with the support of an expert team, sometimes with only the assistance of their staff), which face the challenge of initiating, reviewing and/or updating the process of the elaboration of a public policy for Knowledge Societies.

In Knowledge Societies, as well as in its traditional roles as public policy-maker, regulator, and purchaser, governments have increasingly become users, investors, conservators, managing principals, and evaluators of digital goods and services. This makes them, as responsible agents for public policies, play multiple roles.

On the other hand, knowledge economy and the globally influenced policies are generating a globally integrated economy, and they continue to advance. This is building new challenges and opportunities for private and public, for-profit and not-for-profit entities who must deal with the primacy of government. This means that the responsible agents for public policies have to deal with multiple stakeholders which, as mentioned earlier, have often different and sometimes opposing interests and goals.

How can then a responsible agent adapt to the task of generating or updating a public policy, and how can he or she adapt the contents of this handbook to its needs? There are several issues to be taken into consideration by the agents responsible for leading and coordinating the process of Knowledge Society policy development:

  • Political will: In order to formulate a Knowledge Societies policy, it is necessary that governments fully acknowledge that ICT are a matter for public policies (Guerra et al., 2008). If such a conviction is not present, there will not be formulation or implementation of such a policy. The jurisdictional scope will have to be clearly defined by the political spheres from which these processes or their (re)formulation will commence. Although in many countries the political and technical civil servants in charge rotate in different positions, the designation of the people in charge of promoting this process, as well as their capacity of management and negotiation with the government and other actors, will have a fundamental impact in the Knowledge Societies future (UNESCO, 2009).

(UNECLAC, 2008) expresses an idea to put into practice diverse aspects of the public agenda to present arranged social actions: “Political will does not arise spontaneously and exclusively in the state (…) but it is constructed from the society. However, the main obstacle that interrupts the process constitutes the capacity to represent the social preferences as well as individual preferences”.

  • Hierarchy: The process of coordinating the development of Knowledge Societies will be more successful if the responsible agent, be it an individual, team or agency, is located high in the government hierarchy. The higher the level, the stronger the support for the policies proposed, and the higher the possibility of implementing them concretely. If the proponents are not located high enough, it is in their interest to make alliances with the executive power in place. The working procedures and coordination of the participants´ work are also to be considered.
  • Interaction Strategy: The scope of information policy is very broad, encompassing a collection of policies and strategies that are designed to promote the development of an information-based society, able to rely on information systems that are accessible, open, diverse and secure. In line with the WSIS approach, it should lead to creating an Information Society that is people-centered and serves to promote human rights and democracy. The scope of an information policy overlaps with four policy fields: technology, industry/economy, telecommunications and media.
  • Sectoral interactions: Sectoral policies including but not limited to education, employment, health, welfare, etc. are increasingly having to address issues of new technologies (UNESCO, 2009). It becomes relevant to reflect on the achievement of the agent´s goals regarding the Knowledge Societies considering the presence of government and other stakeholders (including supranational agents and international organizations) in economic and societal affairs, as well as other public policies and plans regarding related issues, such as education, health, urban and regional planning, telecommunications infrastructure, science and technology policies, innovation for development policies, and others.
  • Organization building: The governmental agent in charge needs to be sure that he/she maintains the right organizational structure to operate in a truly effective way, given that Knowledge Societies deals with national, regional, and/or local aims as well as with global interests and contexts.
  • Leadership development: The government and other stakeholders must be sure that they have the right leadership model for the agent charged with Knowledge Society development. Does the organization include experts in Knowledge Society issues? Has it developed Knowledge Society leaders or is planning to do so?

Table 34: Training Knowledge Society leaders, example from Africa

Several organizations around the world are working on training Knowledge Society leaders. The African Leadership in ICT (ALICT) Programme, for example, aims at developing African experts on ICT in education, science, technology, innovation, and economic development to become Knowledge Society leaders and agents for change in their own countries and be catalysts for regional cooperation in the domain. ALICT will develop new models for capacity building and build the capacity of African leaders on Knowledge Society issues including establishment of a platform for multi-stakeholder contribution and institutional capacity building of the African Union Commission.

ALICT´s objectives are the following:

o Provide direct personal experience of ICT as an enabler for human resource development contributing to development of Knowledge Societies

o  Raise awareness and build strategic capacities of leaders and policymakers

o  Enable collaboration among African countries for building Knowledge Societies

o  Harness the leadership skills of promising ICT leaders and policymakers

o  Promote policy dialogue on Knowledge Society issues including dissemination of information and professional development

Source: http://www.saine.co.za/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/African-Leadership-in-ICT-ALICT-Programme-.pdf