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Citizens' information behavior in relation to electronic-government services: a systematic review

Morten Hertzum (Department of Communication, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 March 2022

Issue publication date: 4 October 2022




Government information and services are increasingly delivered online through the Internet or other digital means. To benefit citizens, such electronic government (e-government) must be incorporated in their government-related information behavior. This study reviews citizens' information behavior in relation to e-government.


Following procedures for systematic reviews, this study reviews 53 papers about citizens' e-government information behavior.


The review finds that citizens (1) employ a rich set of quality, accessibility and non-utilitarian criteria in their perception of e-government; (2) use e-government in combination with offline channels; (3) choose channels on the basis of demographic and situational factors; (4) make frequent use of interpersonal sources and (5) may or may not achieve the intended outcome of their e-government information behavior. E-government information behavior has a lot in common with information behaviors in other domains, but it also accentuates certain facets of information behavior, such as the simultaneous use of multiple channels. In addition, mixed findings are common.

Research limitations/implications

Interpersonal sources, both lay and professional, are integral to citizens' e-government information behavior. Yet, theoretical frameworks for understanding information behavior tend to focus on the individual citizen.

Practical implications

On its own, e-government is most suited for simpler problems. More complex problems require an information behavior that combines e-government with interpersonal sources.


E-government shapes how citizens satisfy their government-related information needs. This study provides an overview of the otherwise scattered research on this information behavior.



Hertzum, M. (2022), "Citizens' information behavior in relation to electronic-government services: a systematic review", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 78 No. 6, pp. 1437-1456.



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