Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 1 August 2008


Irani, Z. and Dwivedi, Y.K. (2008), "Editorial", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 2 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/tg.2008.32602daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Volume 2, Issue 4

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the fourth issue of the second volume of Transforming Government: People, Process, and Policy. In this issue there is an eclectic presentation of research covering topical issues associated with eGovernment.

The scope of the eGovernment concepts and applications is wide and ranges from facilitating regular interaction and transactions of citizens with local and federal/national Governments to managing the unforeseen calamities and anti-social behavior. However, type of service that included within the scope of the eGovernment may vary according to the structure and organization of the socio-political system of a country. For example, majority of countries operates health sector within public sector or under the management of Government bodies therefore electronic delivery of health services could be categorized as an element/component of eGovernment. In contrast, health sector in some countries, such as USA are privately run service that may not be appropriately categorized within the scope of the eGovernment – similarly, Defence suffers the same characteristics, in as such as it does not easily sit within the traditional scope of eGovernment. This is just an example to illustrate how varied are the scope of eGovernment practices, which may vary according to a nation’s socio-political system. Similarly, there variation might be based on what is local-Government controlled and what is central-Government controlled. The articles included within this issue illustrate such diversity in the eGovernment practices and research which includes study on disaster management, e-health, defense sector and the civil society.

Building eGovernment infrastructure for electronic delivery of services to various stakeholders is a complex and long process that is unlikely to take place without significant levels of investments and, strong commitment from senior management. Like the private sector, public sector initiatives also expect positive and healthy returns on the investment, through added value. The return on investment is only possible if the planned projects can be delivered within allocated time and resources or, that there is considered to be benefit in the nature of the public-good (such as investments in education, health etc). However, there have been many instances both in public and private sector where planned products were successfully delivered within provided time and resources but outrightly rejected by target groups, for reasons such as culturally not acceptable, compatibility, trust, security, skill, resources, etc. However, such unexpected outcomes and behavior can be avoided if the usefulness, usability of the planned applications and services, required skills, resources and awareness of the target group would have been understood before developing and implementing the applications. In order to create a learning culture, it might be possible to observe and adapt best practices from similar projects implemented elsewhere. This is why pre and post implementation evaluation is conducted by both researchers and practitioners. This issue provides understanding of both evaluation of the technology and the factors affecting citizens/employee adoption of the eGovernment services.

Before presenting the details about the included articles, its worth discussing briefly diversity of the theoretical basis for eGovernment research. The area of eGovernment is truly multi-disciplinary in nature and required theories and methods from various disciplines to understand and explain the issues related with eGovernment conception, design, implementation, adoption, use and impact. Such theoretical and methodological diversity illustrated by articles included within this issue. Social networking concept from the sociology, technology adoption model from the information systems, multi-disciplinary evaluation frameworks and satisfaction index, clearly illustrates the multidisciplinary nature of eGovernment research. Sections below briefly describe the articles included within this issue.

We start off this issue with a paper written by Schellong from Harvard University, which seeks to explore the use of social networking services in government and disaster in Japan. The motivation of this paper can be supported by the literature, which argues that social networks within a community have positive effects on people’s behavior in disasters. As a result, the Japanese Government is testing online social networking service (SNS) at the municipal level with the intention to improve community building, democratic processes and disaster management. Schollong empirically explores the phenomena through two exploratory case studies of local Government SNS in Yatsushiro city, Kumamoto prefecture and Nagaoka. Consequently, the role of local SNS for social capital development and disaster is discussed, with the Yatsushiro’s solution suggesting sustainability, while the Nagaoka’s SNS appears to be in decline. Both have to compete with popular SNS like Mixi and lack critical mass. This article contributes to the research on eParticipation and Public Management by describing an Internet based social software application and its embeddedness in the administrative organization. Any conclusions would however appear to be tentative, especially as a consequence of the non-representative number of users and the lack of testing in a disaster. The paper offers theoretical and practical insights into the use of social software in Government and make a clear contribution towards the scope of TG:PPP.

Then, Alalwany and Alshawi offer a more conceptual insight to the evaluation of e-health services through preferring criteria from the perspective of the user. The purpose of this paper is to explore the user’ perspective in evaluating e-health services and to present evaluation criteria that influences users’ utilization and satisfaction of e-health services. The methodological design is based on two lines of studies relating to the behavior of users of new products or services and on broad examining and critical analysis of the existing evaluations initiatives in eGovernment services generally but also particularly in an e-health context. The authors of the paper argue that e-health services evaluation frameworks should be criteria based, while the criteria can be grounded in, and derived from, one or more specific perspectives or theories, and cannot be entirely framed within the bounds of a single theory or perspective. To do such would be narrow in focus and thus, have a limited impact. The paper suggests an evaluation framework for e-health services and provides a set of clear and useful e-health evaluation criteria that can be accommodated by such a framework. The proposed evaluation criteria seeks to help achieve better user services utilization, to serve as part of an e-health evaluation framework, and to address areas that require further attention in the development of future e-health initiatives.

Technology acceptance toward eGovernment initiatives in the Royal Thai Navy is the area explored by Vathanophas. The purpose of this paper is to show how the adopted technology acceptance model (TAM) is used to measure the acceptance of Internet use by naval officers in the Naval Department for the eGovernment initiative in Thailand. The data collection methods used by this study are a TAM questionnaire and interview. The TAM questionnaire was used to measure naval finance officers’ perceptions on Internet and find the relationship between the 12 external factors (independent factors) with dependent factors within the research framework of this study. The interview was used to explore Internet use acceptance in a public organization, and to discover how government officers at one public organization felt about the eGovernment initiative and Internet usage within their organization. The study analysis shows that the external factors influencing naval officers’ perception on Internet use acceptance were: prior experience, job relevance, commitment, trust, and autonomy. However, training and infrastructure problems are other important factors that can also lead to the acceptance of Internet use. The study outcome can provide useful information to help the organization improve its capacity for successfully implementing the eGovernment initiative. Simultaneously, the study can also be used as a guideline for eGovernment initiative implementation in other public organizations. As a result, this will support future eGovernment initiatives in Thailand.

Yu attempts to formulate a model of Governmental process. The work presented applies the theory of human agency to discuss the problems in transforming Government into a digital organization.

Specifically, the paper applies the Schutzian theory of human agency to analyze public agents’ behavior and the decision making process involved in adopting information technology (IT) in the public sector. The study incorporates cognitive elements such as opportunity discovery, learning, experimentation, trial and error, and revision of plans to understand problems in adopting new technology in Government. Within an Austrian perspective, which is where this paper is grounded, the government is viewed as an institution for coordinating economic affairs. Advances in IT are considered to facilitate this coordination. However, public agents will face structural uncertainty when they consider the adoption of new technology. During the process of making an adoption decision, public officials perceive new incoming events and formulate plans according to their experience and knowledge. The subjective interpretation of problematic situation by public officials yields provisional judgment, which is often confirmed by subsequent experience. With new information and experience from other IT deployments in Government, they subsequently revise their plans to eliminate errors and to improve levels of success or to curtail failure, however these constructs are defined. Unlike neoclassical public economists who act as omnipotent advisor on telling how the eGovernment should behave, the theory of human agency analyses the operation of digital government from the “first person perspective”. It is suggested in this paper that public officials, equipped with better IT, act or make decision under uncertainty and constraints. Hence, the impact of a Government action on an economic issue is not deterministic. Instead, many Government policies yield a surprise to the society and result in institutional change. It is concluded that both agents in private and public sectors cruise into the journey of an unknown future.

Finally, Lee et al., propose a research note, where they introduce the development of a standard for the measurement of citizen satisfaction for eGovernment services. Citizen oriented Evaluation of eGovernment Services (CEES) proposes the knowledge exchange between two academic partners (Brunel University and American University of Beirut) and a private sector partner (Turk Satellite or TurkSat). The purpose of CEES is to develop a reference process model that defines a citizen satisfaction index model and procedures for measuring the index for real world eGovernment services. The process model will be tested in three different countries (UK, Turkey, and Lebanon) having different cultures, the maturity of eGovernment systems, and relationships between citizens and Governments to verify its generality worldwide. The reference process model is expected to be used by other eGovernment stakeholders to project inefficient eGovernment services for further improvement in their designs. This paper seeks to justify the basis of such a model and to propose the methodology that will underpin its development.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed assembling it for you, and look forward to receiving your valuable contributions for the coming issue.

Zahir IraniEditorYogesh Kumar DwivediAssistant Editor