The paper aims to investigate the national open data portals of Japan, The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia to identify the role of cultural variations in terms of their open data initiatives.
Following a qualitative approach, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are probed to appreciate the extent to which the cultures of Japan, The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia are different. Thereafter, the national open data portals of the three countries are analyzed in terms of their nature and scope to underline the extent to which there is a match between the cultural characteristics and the extent of commitment and implementation of open data initiative.
There are cultural dissimilarities across the three countries and the same is reflected in the extent of commitment toward open data initiatives. Saudi Arabia, with its “collectivist” and high “power distance” score, is more reserved in implementing its open data initiative as compared with Japan or The Netherlands. Similarly, The Netherlands, which scores high in terms of “feminity” and “long-term orientation,” is more forthcoming in publishing data sets, with many government organizations taking up the initiative of publishing the data sets. Finally, with more degree of “uncertainty avoidance,” Saudi Arabia prefers to remain on the safe side by publishing only those data sets that are non-controversial, insensitive and readily available. At the same time, the open data initiatives across the three countries require the adoption of a more rigorous and committed approach to ensure that the goals of transparency and public accountability are better met and there is more reuse of the data sets by improvising the user-friendliness of the interfaces for tapping them.
Taking examples from three countries, representative of the different cultural characteristics, it is desirable that further research be conducted by including more countries and deriving an evaluation framework for analyzing the sustainability of the open data initiatives in terms of their culture.
Governments are encouraged to adopt a more committed stance toward institutionalizing the open data initiatives and policymakers should ensure that the quality of data sets is sustained for maximum reuse of the data sets and for the derivation of public value.
Citizens should engage themselves in tapping the data sets for improvising them and contribute toward the existing data sets as well.
Hitherto, there has been focus on the examples of open data initiatives across different countries, but the role of culture was never investigated while analyzing the open data initiatives. This is the first study where the countries’ open data initiatives are probed in terms of the cultural variations across the three countries using the cultural dimensions identified by Hofstede.
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