82 | 30, pp. 79-106 | doxa.comunicación

January-June of 2020

Analysis of the components of the intangible asset known as Citizen Engagement in the public sector

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

Hypothesis 1: It is possible to infer the meaning of Citizen Engagement from a set of individual attitudes and behaviours of citizens.

b) Is it decisive for Public Administration to use good communication with its public in order to activate Citizen Engagement?

Based on the current ideas of researchers who believe that a citizen is engaged when Public Administration makes an effort to oblige them to become participants in public life, the second hypothesis has been formulated as follows:

Hypothesis 2: Citizen Engagement depends on the correct exchange of information between Administration and the public, which makes it essential for institutions to develop effective forms of communication.

In order for information and communication to be the driving force in the process of activating Citizen Engagement, it is crucial to know its components, which is the main objective of this article.

3. Examining the components of the intangible asset known as Citizen Engagement

This article draws upon a previous definition of intangible assets in the public sector context (Canel and Luoma-aho, 2018: 77) to emphasise one of its assumptions: the existence of certain intangible assets depends on the recognition of those assets (someone must assign a given intangible asset to an organisation). Such intangibles are assets based on perception, and even though they cannot be created starting from ground zero, as they are backed by real experiences, they require communication if they are to be developed.

In this sense, we will focus on Citizen Engagement as an asset based on citizen perception.

Firstly, it is necessary to start with two clarifications regarding the use of the term:

Since engagement is a widely accepted term in academic literature, engagement or commitment will be used interchangeably

In order to give consideration to the term Citizen Engagement1 as an intangible asset, its first letter will be written in capitals, both in Spanish and in English.

The concept of Citizen Engagement is a research phenomenon that has been enhanced in recent decades (Maurrasse, 2001; Ostrander, 2004; Cooper, Bryer and Meek, 2006: Dahlgren, 2009; Ekman and Amna, 2012; Brandsen and Honingh, 2015, among others), and consequently the concept has been changing. Today, engagement can be understood as a way of bridging the gap between citizens and traditional public institutions, the latter of which have been characterized by one-way communication and action.

In the academic field, the literature is extensive. Consequently, for the purposes of this paper it is useful to classify the contributions according to two perspectives: on the one hand, there are contributions that explore the meaning of citizen engagement from the perspective of citizenship (see, for example, Verba and Nie, 1972; Brady, 1999; Adler and Goggin,

1 The idea of engagement is built on different aspects. Citizen Engagement is one of them and the focus of this article.