Taking Stock of the Situation: The Situational Context of Bureaucratic Encounters

Søren Skaarup

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper contributes to e-government research by presenting a conceptual framework of the key-features of the situational context that informs citizens approaches to bureaucratic encounters with government (BEs). The framework is developed through a qualitative hermeneutic approach involving several different literatures. The framework identifies five basic features of the citizen’s situation that may affect how citizens approach BE’s: 1) Consequences: the possible outcomes of the situation 2) Vulnerability: how well equipped is the citizen to deal with the possible outcomes. 3) Familiarity: how much can the citizen draw on previous experiences with similar situations. 4) Complexity: how complex does the citizen perceive her situation to be. 5) Urgency: what time-constraints are there on the citizen getting the issues resolved. The framework can be a useful tool for analysing citizens’ strategies concerning the bureaucratic encounters and their use of self-service systems and the effects thereof for both citizens and authorities. In addition, the framework can be used by researchers and practitioners alike to analyse self-service-systems and multi-channel strategies and service designs to identify how they take the different features of the situation into account.
Translated title of the contributionSituationens anatomi: Situationens som kontekst for det bureuraktiske møde
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectronic Government : 21st IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference, EGOV 2022, Linköping, Sweden, September 6–8, 2022, Proceedings
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Citizen–government interaction
  • Digitalization Theory building
  • digital services


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