To read this content please select one of the options below:

The e-government paradox in post-Soviet countries

Colin Knox (Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan)
Saltanat Janenova (Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 26 April 2019

Issue publication date: 3 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the emergence of e-government in post-Soviet countries using Kazakhstan as a case study. Extant research on e-government in developing countries highlights significant benefits including improved public services, reduced corruption, and more open and inclusive government. The paper asserts the presence of an e-government paradox which limits its potential to improve public services.


Primary data were collected from a number of sources: 6 focus groups with central government agencies, local authorities and civil society organisations; 25 structured and semi-structured interviews; and participant observation.


The research finds evidence of an e-government paradox in five forms: an emphasis on technological development; transactional services are faster but have displaced attention from core public services; petty corruption has been reduced but grand corruption remains; isomorphic mimicry; and greater participation by citizens has been limited.

Research limitations/implications

The focus of the research is Kazakhstan. Applying the lessons learned to other post-Soviet countries has limitations given their different stages of development since independence.

Practical implications

The key practical implication of this research is that countries can become absorbed by e-government technology without questioning the fundamental business model which underpins how public services are delivered. Ultimately, this impacts on the social value of e-government.


While existing research has examined how e-government has been implemented in developing countries, this paper focusses on Kazakhstan as an authoritarian state with wider implications for post-Soviet countries.



The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Grant PM150036 and the kind assistance of the Astana Civil Service Hub in organising the workshop with participants from post-Soviet countries.


Knox, C. and Janenova, S. (2019), "The e-government paradox in post-Soviet countries", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 600-615.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles