A taxonomy for proactive public services


Work data:

ISSN: 0740-624X

Type of work: Article (academic)


e-Government & e-Administration


In light of the increasing importance of citizen-centricity in public services, one approach technologically advanced public organizations take is to integrate proactivity into their services. Scholars agree with the potential for proactivity in public services and study some aspects of the topic, and some publications deal with the concept of proactivity itself. However, opinions regarding the characteristics of proactive public services diverge in both research and practice, and despite—or maybe because of—the growing body of research, the literature still lacks conceptual clarity. We address this issue by developing a taxonomy for proactive public services using Nickerson, Varshney, and Muntermann’s (2013) taxonomy-development method. Using eight empirical and conceptual iterations that draw on a structured literature review, two semi-structured interviews, investigation of 67 real-world objects, and an evaluation with nine potential users, we propose a taxonomy of eight dimensions and 23 characteristics. The outcome of this work enriches scientific knowledge about digital government by detailing the concept of a proactive public service and serving as a basis for further research. Moreover, practitioners can be inspired by the 23 characteristics of proactive public services to identify possible next steps in the design of their services, such as determining which proactive public services are feasible and in what form. In addition to the taxonomy, our collection of 67 practical examples of proactive public services from a variety of countries contributes to digital government research and practice.