Modernising the public administration online

How to improve the communication of the Emilia-Romagna Region’s European Partnerships

My master’s thesis was written during an internship at the Emilia-Romagna Region’s Department of European Policies and International Relations in Bologna between November 2012 and May 2013. It was discussed and presented during the first graduation session of the academic year of 2012/2013 in July 2013.

The purpose of the master’s thesis was to suggest ways to improve the online communication of the European Partnerships project of the Department.


The European Partnerships website was written only in Italian despite they have partnerships with several European regions and there was no information on the partner regions. The Italian text was also written in a complicated way, with references to laws and other more internal information. The website did not seem to bear in mind the citizens or the international partners as readers.

The Emilia-Romagna region had recently implemented a new centralised web portal and was in the process of redesigning all previous existing websites to the common new format. This created restrictions on the modifications that could be done to the website.

I made a communication plan for internal and external communication in order to plan the steps to be taken. The practical results of the internship were the creation of dossiers on nine European partner regions, for both internal use as well as external use on the website. Other projects during the internship included assisting at visits of foreign delegations and writing reports.

The text on the website of the European Partnerships was rewritten following guidelines on clear writing and a paragraph in English was added.

The work done during the internship improving the website of the European Partnerships showed how a single department can create a more user-friendly website with a clearly written text, both in Italian and in English, in order to be able to reach out to all citizens and to foreign partners.

The thesis argued that innovation online should serve as a strategic guiding light in the project to modernise and reform the internal structure of the public administration, making it more transparent, communicating and therefore presumably more accessible and legitimised to its citizens, both online and offline.

The practical reality of the department and of the region however, where no reform of the internal structure was planned, showed that improving a website can be a simple way to create a more communicating public administration, especially with little resources at hand.

(Update 2014: the new Europe-portal of the Emilia-Romagna Region is finally online. The web site of the European Partnerships has kept the rewritten Italian text but they have unfortunately erased the paragraph in English. The dossiers, pending internal approval, have not yet been uploaded).

Anders Pettersson – Laureato in Scienze della Comunicazione Pubblica e Sociale

Leggi l’articolo in italiano: Come modernizzare la pubblica amministrazione online


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