Purpose – Researchers have argued that social networks within a community have positive effects on people's behavior in disasters. The Japanese government is testing online SNS at the municipal level with the intention to improve community building, democratic processes, and disaster management. This paper seeks to explore the use of social networking services (SNSs) in government and disaster in Japan. Design/methodology/approach – This study is based on a literature review of social capital, social support, disaster, and social software. Two exploratory case studies of local government SNS in Yatsushiro city, Kumamoto prefecture and Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture provide empirical evidence. Consequently, the role of local SNS for social capital development and disaster is discussed. Findings – Yatsushiro's solution seems to be sustainable, Nagaoka's SNS is in decline. Both have to compete with popular SNS like Mixi and lack critical mass. There are some indications that government‐initiated SNS helps to build social capital and utilize it in times of a disaster. Research limitations/implications – The paper contributes to the research on eParticipation and Public Management by describing an internet‐based social software application and its embeddedness in the administrative organization. Any conclusions must be tentative, especially as a consequence of the non‐representative number of users and the lack of testing in a disaster. Practical implications – The paper provides practitioners with two real life case studies on the implementation and use of local SNS in government. Originality/value – The paper offers theoretical and practical insights into the use of social software in government. Moreover, it connects current trends in government 2.0 to disaster research.
Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 1, 2008
Keywords: Japan; Local government; Communication technologies; Social networks