Prospects of open government data (OGD) in facilitating the economic diversification of GCC region

Publication Date08 May 2017
Date08 May 2017
AuthorStuti Saxena
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Prospects of open government
data (OGD) in facilitating
the economic diversication
of GCC region
Stuti Saxena
Department of Political Science, Central University of Haryana,
Mahendragarh, India and Siraj Quryat Trading and Contracting LLC.,
Muscat, Oman
Purpose As the ongoing oil prices’ crisis is emerging as a major cause of concern for the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) region, the constituent governments are attempting at undertaking measures of economic
diversication to attain long-term sustainability. The author posits that open government data (OGD) has a
signicant role to play in facilitating the economic turnaround of the GCC region, given that OGD promotes
innovation and economic growth besides providing avenues for collaboration and participation among
different stakeholders.
Design/methodology/approach Following a structured literature review, the paper scans literature
on OGD followed by providing a typology of countries on the basis of their OGD-adherence (“laggard”,
“caged”, “forerunner” and “champ”). This is followed by a discussion on the ongoing oil prices’ crisis, and
evidentiary support is lent by examples from the OGD portals of each of the six GCC countries (Bahrain,
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) to provide indicators as to how a robust OGD
implementation may support their economic diversication objectives.
Findings Although the present OGD framework of the GCC is relatively weak, it is asserted that OGD has
immense potential in facilitating the economic diversication initiatives of the GCC countries. Therefore, the
GCC needs to strategize upon institutionalization of their OGD initiatives for realizing their “vision” and goals
of economic diversication to result in an economic turnaround effectively.
Originality/value Besides providing a typology of countries as OGD-adherents and categorizing GCC as
“forerunner(s)” on the basis of the typology, the originality of the study lies in its attempt to answer the
research question: “what is the role of the OGD in facilitating the economic diversication of the GCC?”
Conceding that the research on OGD in the GCC context is few and far between, the present study is a
signicant contribution to the extant literature pertaining to the roll-out of OGD in developing countries.
Keywords Open data, Kuwait, Typology, Caged, Systematic literature review, Bahrain,
Forerunner, OGD, GCC, Economic diversication, Oil prices, Laggard
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
With the ongoing crisis of depleting oil reserves in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and
the consequent plummeting of oil prices (Khediri et al., 2015;Zeitun et al., 2017), the GCC
constituents have been attempting to turnaround their economy for which they need to
“diversify, increase their productivity, create more well-paying jobs for locals, improve their
education systems and boost the role of the private sector” (Forbes, 2016). Concomitantly, the
GCC has been pushing forward its open government data (OGD) agenda to bring about
transparency and collaboration in citizen – government interaction, although in a nascent
form. The underlying philosophy of OGD is “making data freely available to everyone,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 3 April 2017
Revised 2 May 2017
Accepted 2 May 2017
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 5/6, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-04-2017-0023
without limiting restrictions” (Kalampokis et al., 2011, p. 236). The contribution of OGD has
been highlighted in terms of solving socio-economic problems as well as by creating national
wealth by tapping the OGD outputs effectively and efciently. OGD has immense potential
in driving the “information economy” forward and OGD’s contribution to the government
could be of the tune of 40 billion euro per year (European Commission, 2011).
With this background, the present study uses a structured literature review (SLR) method
of research where research papers were scanned contingent upon their relevance for the
present research query. Principally, this study seeks to underscore how institutionalization
of robust OGD initiatives in the GCC may propel the trajectory of economic growth in the
region. Social and economic values may be earned by sustained OGD formulation and
implementation, and, in this vein, this paper addresses the call for undertaking research for
appreciating the “investigation of different policies, strategies, and principles for opening
data”; “the interconnection between the OGD processes and their context”; “the development
of architectures of ICT infrastructures that allow for an support application development
utilizing OGD”; “the generation of some kind of public value” and to “(anticipate) unexpected
crises” (Charalabidis et al., 2016). The present study seeks to amalgamate each of these
suggestive research pointers to address the research query – “what is the role and
signicance of the OGD in facilitating the economic diversication drive of the GCC?”
Besides, the study also responds to the call of Biygautane et al. (2016a,2016b, p. 5) and his
colleagues to provide an “alternative solution” to redress the ongoing economic crisis in the
GCC region. Finally, this paper contributes to the theoretical development of OGD by
proposing a typology for classifying countries on the basis of OGD adherence.
Research on OGD outlines that OGD has emerged as an “important topic in
democratically developed societies” (Wirtz et al., 2017), but the commitment to spearhead
OGD initiatives varies across the globe (Krishnamurthy and Awazu, 2016) owing to several
barriers to implement and use OGD (Martin, 2014). Therefore, we contend that OGD has
much to offer in the developing countries as well. In this vein, the paper holds merits in the
sense that to the best of the researchers’ knowledge, this is the rst study which has picked
the aforementioned research question to gauge the extent to which the OGD initiatives may
serve to further the economic diversication bid of the GCC region. While extant literature
has been focusing upon the probable measures of economic diversication, it overlooks the
role of OGD in playing a major role in effecting a turnaround of the economy of the GCC
region. In this way, the study has plugged the research gap in a substantial way.
The paper is designed as follows: Section 2 shall provide a brief regarding the research
method adopted for the study followed by a typology of countries as OGD-adherents into
“laggard”, “caged”, “forerunner” and “champ”. Thereafter, there is a brief regarding the GCC
region and the broad overview about the ongoing economic crisis in the region; Section 3
shall provide a brief sketch about the nature and scope of OGD and provide examples picked
from the OGD portals of each of the six GCC countries to show how the OGD implementation
may further the purported “vision” and goals of the countries for securing economic
diversication; Section 4 shall provide a sketch of the study’s limitations and implications;
Section 5 and 6 shall cover study’s summarization and further research suggestions,
2. Method
2.1 Structured literature review
The study adopts a “Structured Literature Review” as its research approach wherein the
extant literature is identied and scanned in line with the research objectives. Literature
search is important in information systems research because it allows the researcher to “dig
Prospects of

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