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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.
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.
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.