Architectures for Tinkering?: Contextual Strategies towards Interoperability in E-government
Research has revealed the entanglement of e-government strategy and information infrastructure and that the control of infrastructures often remains an illusion as actual development and implementation is challenged by a constant drift. However, guidelines for public sector CIOs how to deal with these challenges remain scarce: Are governments well advised using architectures and other conceptualizations as tools in a top-down implementation of an infrastructure based on a preset interoperability strategy? Or should governments rather develop contextual strategies that build on the understanding of the actual drift of infrastructures and employ selected architectures only as facilitators for stakeholder communication during the next phase of interoperability achievement? In view of nowadays available theoretical reflections, the case of Egypt is analyzed to examine the role of service-oriented architecture in the control and drift of the G2G infrastructure. Findings reveal that what at first seemed to be an immature vendor-driven "technology-first" approach with a clear absence of IT governance strategy, in retrospect can be considered as the appropriate choice of architecture because it has successfully impacted agendas of most local stakeholder to move into the direction of e-government interoperability. Attempting to generalize, it is suggested that strategies towards e-government interoperability should select architectures based on reflection of the specific implementation context: to embrace existing infrastructure components, to be comprehensible and acceptable by the stakeholders involved, to be suitable for designing and standardizing the next generation of component interfaces, and to provide a time-limited frame for "tinkering," i.e. allowing stakeholders to find their own way of embracing and implementing the concepts in focus.