The Electronic Journal of e-Government publishes perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Government

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Journal Article

Fad or Investment in the Future: An Analysis of the Demand of e‑Services in Danish Municipalities  pp19-26

Helle Zinner Henriksen

© Dec 2006 Volume 4 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 48

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Abstract

The Internet has created a new window for citizens to interact with the pubic sector through the means of electronic services (e‑services). Municipalities throughout the Western world are competing to offer as many e‑services as possible and several studies have explored the contents and nature of e‑services for citizens. Most of these studies have dealt with the possibilities and reach of e‑services. The present study applies a demand perspective focusing on which e‑services citizens actually use. The use of e‑services during the period May 2004 to October 2004 is analyzed based on log‑files from the largest Danish provider of municipal e‑services. The study fuels a discussion of whether or not the offerings of municipal offering of e‑services are driven by technology fads or if they are exponents of an investment in the future that aim at improving the quality of life of citizens.

 

Keywords: e-government, electronic citizen services, supply and demand

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 4 Issue 1 / Nov 2006  pp1‑48

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The number of e‑government events in terms of conferences, mini‑tracks, special issues of journals and books continues to grow at a pace which is, on the one hand, enormously encouraging, but on the other vaguely depressing. Encouraging because it is great to see so much interest in the subject and the steady increase in both the variety and quality of research; depressing because it has become well nigh impossible to keep up with everything that it happening. Still, it is probably a good complaint to have. As a journal editor, it is healthy to receive an increasing number of articles arrive in my in‑tray. Whether or not articles are eventually published, there is always something to learn from them.

In this edition we have five articles which illustrate the diversity and richness of electronic government as a field of research. Sell et al’s paper is an examination of the practical outcomes of an initiative in Finland to assist members of the community who might have difficulty accessing the grocery markets in the city of Turku (I have actually had the pleasure of wandering around a grocery market in Turku so this paper had a personal resonance for me). This was, in the authors’ words, a bold initiative and their paper compares what the sponsors of the project expected to happen with what actually occurred.

Dillon et al look at developments on the other side of the globe with a longitudinal study of local e‑government in New Zealand. Their study looks at how the use of web based services evolved over a four year period. Their findings about the development paths followed by the local authorities leads them to suggest that there are still plenty of opportunities for using the web strategically in New Zealand local government and provides a platform for comparative papers from other countries.

e‑Government is a broad church. Government activities can range from managing the nation’s finances to running the national airline. One big area of public sector expenditure is healthcare. The article by Khoumbati and Themistocleous examines the use of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) in healthcare services. They identify six common factors that are found in a variety of different integration approaches including EAI, EDI, ERP and web services and propose a conceptual model for the adoption of EAI in healthcare service providers. They suggest that there is much scope for further research into this approach to integration.

The article by Andersen is at a more conceptual level than the others in this issue. He asserts that there are five significant challenges facing e‑government today and explores each of these in turn. He tracks the major shifts in the use of IT in government over the past four decades and argues that there are dangers in current approaches such as a focus on defining boundaries rather than defining services. The author examines the problem of confronting the ‘demand paradox’ and explores some interesting byways, such as the use of IT to avoid work! All in all, this is a thought provoking contribution to the field.

Finally, Henriksen’s paper explores the demand for electronic services in Danish local government at the level of municipalities. The research approach use, examination of log files is an interesting one and there are several informative analyses including the types of services offered and the ratio of users to potential users of these services – a graph which, at a glance, tell the reader a great deal. Like Dillon et al, Henricksen concludes that there is still much to be done in developing the use of IT in local administration.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, open care, efficiency, electronic grocery shopping, e-government, strategy, management, demand, entities, gate-keeping, labor intensity, readiness, competence, local government, policy, electronic citizen services, supply and demand, healthcare, adoption, Enterprise Application Integration

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 4 Issue 2 / Dec 2006  pp49‑94

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

What’s in a name?

One of the fascinating phenomena in marketing is re‑branding. Often the effect of something as simple as a name change can have a significant effect on market perception and sales. Sometime companies spend millions on coming up with a new name complete with corporate logo. Several leading companies have acquire new monikers over the years: Exxon, Diageo and Accenture to name but a few.

The rationale for changing name varies. Sometimes it is necessary to provide a common identity to a conglomerate that has grown by acquisition. Sometime is it because of a split or spin off. Sometimes a company may re‑name itself after a highly successful product or to distance itself after a split off from another organisation.

As in corporate life; so in academic. I was recently listening to a paper at a conference where the speaker opined that e‑government was dead and that we should now be talking about transformative government. My immediate reaction was why stop there? If e‑government is dead, what about digital government (a preferred term with many US academics) or informatization, a term with a much longer pedigree than e‑government or how about sounding the death knell for i‑government or virtual government or technology enabled government? The expression ‘transformative government’ is a good example of what might be called verbal inflation, i.e. the propensity to think of ever more grandiose words to describe the same thing. All e‑government is, at some level, transformative but there is little evidence so far that the use of ICT in government, which recall now goes back nearly 50 years, is actually seriously transforming the processes of governance itself except at the margins. To apply the word ‘transformative’ to what is going on in e‑government at the moment is to overstate, by a large margin, what is actually happening. It may well be that the incremental impact of e‑government will be seriously transformative or that some major change will suddenly occur, but let’s keep our heads. So far there is little to suggest that government structure, bureaucracies, balances of power or decision making is significantly affected. There are straws in the wind, but no radical changes as yet.

Often, when academics in a field feel that they need to change the name of what they are doing, there are good reasons for this. Unfortunately, there are also times when a change of name is little more than fresh coat of paint for old ideas. Knowledge management is one good example of this. We don’t need to do this for e‑government which remains as good a name as any for what is still an expanding and exciting field of research. When we do get genuinely transformative government, which I hope will be soon, maybe we can re‑badge our field. In the meantime, the name of this journal at least will remain unchanged.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, open care, efficiency, electronic grocery shopping, e-government, strategy, management, demand, entities, gate-keeping, labor intensity, readiness, competence, local government, policy, electronic citizen services, supply and demand, healthcare, adoption, Enterprise Application Integration

 

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