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Citizen Relationship Management

A Study of CRM in Government


Alexander Schellong

This study explores Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in government. Based on an interdisciplinary literature review and multiple-case study design, a model of Citizen Relationship Management (CiRM) is developed and discussed. The case studies explore the perceptions of CRM/CiRM by administrators, elected officials and consultants as well as its implementation and impact on the municipal level and in a multijurisdictional environment in the United States. Although the explorative part of the study focuses broadly on a theoretical conceptualization of CiRM, the immediate empirical referent of research are the 311 initiatives in the City of Baltimore, the City of Chicago, the City of New York and Miami-Dade County. Thus, the results help administrators and researchers to convey the idea and challenges of 311 well. The study shows that CRM is to a certain extent only partly able to make novel contributions to currently active reform movements in government. In addition, the study’s findings support the idea that CiRM provides the means to a different kind of public participation.


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2 From Customer Relationship Management towards citizen-oriented government 9


9 2 From Customer Relationship Management towards citizen-oriented government Before embarking on a study of CiRM, it is important to review three areas of the lit- erature. Each of these areas gives us a sense of what has been done to improve the citi- zen-orientation of government, how CiRM can be conceptualized and what its poten- tial to affect society and polity might be. First, I explore CRM within the business management literature in Section 2.1. Second, I present an overview of different ad- ministrative reform approaches such as New Public Management (NPM) and eGov- ernment, which in one way or another are aimed at improving the citizen–government relationship (Section 2.2). Third, I present a brief summary of research on the relation- ship between citizens and public administration (Section 2.3). Moreover, I review the discourse on the role of the citizen in the state, in particular calling the citizen a “cus- tomer” of public administration. A summary of the literature review is given in Sec- tion 2.4. 2.1 Customer Relationship Management In general, an enterprise aims to win, retain and increase a customer’s revenue, once you strip away all other activities of a firm. This is true for nonprofits as well as for-profits, for public as well as private enterprise (Bergeron 2002; Peppers/Rogers 2004: 5). These enterprises are usually structured and managed around the products and services they provide (Homburg 2003). While the 1980s was characterized by the recognition that an external focus on customers was important, businesses in...

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