Citizens’ perceptions of government’s participatory use of social media

Ali Saif Al-Aufi (Department of Information Studies, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)
Ibrahim Al-Harthi (Department of Psychology, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)
Yousuf AlHinai (Department of Information Systems, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)
Zahran Al-Salti (Department of Information Systems, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)
Ali Al-Badi (Department of Information Systems, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Publication date: 15 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the perceptions of Omani citizens toward the use of social media by the government for participatory and interactive relationships. More precisely, the descriptive nature of the study resides in its ability to explain how social media users regard the current status and levels of presence, transparency, engagement, responsiveness and trust about the current use of social media by the Omani Government.

Design/methodology/approach

A quantitative approach was used to collect data. This was done via a self-administered questionnaire from a return sample of 1,769 citizens drawn from different places in Oman. These citizens were considered as well-informed and regular active users of social media. The reviewed literature provided a basis for the construct of the questionnaire.

Findings

The overall results indicated modest levels of agreement in all of the investigated factors. The neutral findings suggest that there is a level of uncertainty among the respondents regarding how the government is determining the potential of social media for participatory and interactive relationships. Findings in this study advocate the outcomes of the recent Arab Social Media Report, plus the few relevant studies included in the literature, which nearly stated that although there is a growing use of social media among citizens, governments are failing to take full advantage of social media. Governments are also failing to engage citizens to design and deliver more efficient and collaborative services, per this study’s findings.

Practical/implications

The findings call for the importance of strategically framing the use of participatory social media by the government. In a broader sense, the findings of this study are beneficial to all contexts that share similar political and socio-economic philosophy, especially the Arab states and most of the developing countries. The findings provide insights for governments in need of developing social media strategies to promote more collaborative and interactive governance.

Originality/value

The study aids in understanding the views of citizens who are the current major players in a highly technology-driven environment. This environment is found to be transforming the relationship between citizens and governments. The study adds knowledge to the currently scarce body of literature dealing with issues pertaining to citizen–government relationships in social media in the Arab states, and similar contexts in developing countries. Its findings may provide valuable insights for policy makers to leverage collaborative relationships between governments and citizens.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is funded by His Majesty’s Grant for Strategic Research at Sultan Qaboos University (SR/EPS/INFS/13/01).

Citation

Al-Aufi, A.S., Al-Harthi, I., AlHinai, Y., Al-Salti, Z. and Al-Badi, A. (2017), "Citizens’ perceptions of government’s participatory use of social media", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 174-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-09-2016-0056

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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