The Diffusion and Evolution of 311 Citizen Service Centers in American Cities from 1996 to 2012 - A Study to Identify the Catalysts for the Adoption of Citizen Engagement Technology
This study of the diffusion and evolution of the 311 innovation in the form of citizen service centers and as a technology cluster has been designed to help identify the catalysts for the spread of government-to-citizen (G2C) technology in local government in order to better position future G2C technology for a more rapid rate of adoption. The 311 non-emergency number was first established in 1996 and had spread to 80 local governments across the United States by 2012. This dissertation examines: what factors contributed to the adoption of 311 in American local governments over 100,000 in population; how did the innovation diffuse and evolve over time; and why did some governments' communications with citizens became more advanced than others?
Given the problem of determining causality, a three-part research design was used to examine the topic including a historical narrative, logistic regression model, and case studies from Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and St. Louis. The narrative found that the political forces of the federal government, national organizations, and policy entrepreneurs (Karch, 2007) promoted the 311 innovation to solve different problems and that it evolved beyond its original intent. The logistic regression model found that there was a statistically significant relationship between 311 adoption and the variables of higher population, violent crime rate, and the mayor-council form of government. The case studies revealed that mayors played a strong role in establishing citizen service centers in all three cities while 311 adopter Pittsburgh and non-adopter St. Louis seemed to have more in common in their G2C evolution due to severe budget constraints. With little written about the 311 innovation in academic journals, practitioners and scholars will benefit from understanding the catalysts for the diffusion and evolution of the 311 in order to determine ways to increase the rate of adoption for future G2C communication innovations.