Public Sector Open Data : Shaping an arena for innovation and value creation

Sammanfattning: This research initially sprung out of a natural curiosity for the emerging phenomenon of open data with its combination of democratic perspectives, since it is based on freedom of information legislation, and its potential for a multitude of citizen driven innovations. Research showed that while open data repeatedly was being envisioned for having immense potential of leading to a multitude of innovations and societal impacts, most of the attention still remained on challenges related to enable a broad realisation of open data, that is, putting more data on the web. At the same time, research and reports indicated that open data was a more complex matter than expected, and that the release of open data was guarded by myths saying that opening up of data equalled instant benefits from open data use, and that open data initiatives were emerging too slowly. In general, the understanding of how to address open data so that the envisioned innovative potential was enabled remained a pressing issue. Therefore this research set out to explore how the public sector open data phenomenon is being shaped to address societal opportunities and challenges, and thereby enabling both practical and theoretic contributions. The field of Social Shaping of Technology (SST) was chosen as main theoretic lens since it provided good models for approaching technology development and innovation in general, and also includes social and political dimensions without being limited by organisational borders or managerial dimensions. By engaging in a case study of two Swedish municipalities and their respective open data initiatives in combination with a study on European policies and reported open data use, a number of research papers has been written, of which four is included in this thesis.Findings reveal that the highly heterogeneous evolvement of open data can advantageously be seen as shaped into a metaphorical open arena for innovation and value creation, inspired by a SST concept called arenas for development. The arena concept enables us to bring together processes and entities that otherwise are dislocated, and to gain a holistic view of the shaping processes at stake for this yet immature ICT-phenomenon. Also, it allows us to address the evolvement of open data in a way that intertwines with social, political and technical aspects. Within the overall concept of an open arena for innovation and value creation, the research revealed two concepts for understanding how societal challenges and opportunities were addressed with the help of open data; multidirectional and multicentre evolvement, of which the latter is a contribution to SST theory. As a final reflection, this thesis provides some thoughts on future implications and possibilities of the democratic stance of open data.