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 Issue

Volume 8 Issue 1 / Mar 2010  pp1‑82

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

e‑Government is, like many a term in technology before it, suffering from verbal inflation. Actually that is something of an overstatement, terminological proliferation would be a better way of putting it. Now we have e‑governance, t‑government, i‑government, etc. It seems that picking a new letter and sticking it in front of ‘government’ is becoming quite the fashion.

However e‑government is still alive and well and in this issue we have a rich variety of articles covering different aspects of the topic. Joseph Bwayala is (I think) the journal’s first author from Botswana. In his paper he uses the Technology Acceptance Model as a starting point for looking at ways of reducing the risk of failure of e‑government projects in southern Africa and specifically how an adoption model has been used in Zambia and Botswana to foster e‑inclusion. This is a tale of two countries with Botswana having a developed e‑government strategy whilst Zambia is still at a much more basic level with its services. The model he proposes is a complex one and it is interesting to compare it with other models of e‑government acceptance. Of particular interest is the inclusion of local culture in the mix.

Another African country, Uganda, is the locus of Edgar Asiimwe and Nena Lim’s article in which they address another important theme in e‑government research, namely website usability. As they point out, only limited research has yet been done in this area in Africa. As the authors point out, Uganda currently does not score highly on e‑readiness criteria, but there is a steady growth in web usage. Looking at a range of major ministry web sites in the country, the authors consider various aspects of design layout, navigation and legal policies. They use a coding scheme to construct a simple, but effective model for rating each ministry. This is a model which might prove useful to other researchers, especially those in Africa.

There are two papers from Malaysia in this issue, both looking at different problems. Erlane K Ghani and Jamaliah Said look at the use by local authorities in Malaysia of the Web to disclose financial information. The Malaysian government has set itself the target of making Malaysia a fully developed country by 2020. eGovernment is one of a number of pillars in their approach to this. One of their findings is that a factor affecting how local authorities use the Web to disclose financial information is their sense of social obligation. Performance is another factor. Size, it would appear, does not matter. Their research suggests opportunities for others to replicate in different environments and compare what they find with the Malaysian results.

Also in Malaysia, Anna Che Azmi and Ng Lee Bee investigate the factors which affect adoption of e‑filing for taxation. Their approach is based in what has become almost a tradition for acceptance models as their review of the literature shows. They show that for Malaysian taxpayers at least, perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness and perceived risk all influence the intention to use and usage of the e‑filing system. These findings are in line with those found in other countries and are a useful addition to the growing body of knowledge about user take‑up of on‑line taxation services.

In a different part of the globe, Hyun Jung Yun and Cynthia Opheim analyse the diffusion of e‑government take‑up by the populations of different States of the Union in America. West has shown that there are quite dramatic differences in state e‑government rankings in the USA with the top states achieving double the scores of the weakest. A wide variety of explanations for these discrepancies have been proposed from topography to economic resources. Yun and Opheim suggest that a more useful explanatory factor is emulation and examine four explanatory hypotheses about diffusion: emulation, imitation, citizen demand and accumulation of time. They conclude that leadership is influential and that states will be motivated to copy innovations which they perceive will lead to greater efficiency and cost savings. This gives a greater impetus to reforms.

In terms of the typical EJEG paper, Andrew Power’s article is not in the mainstream, but it is the type of article of which I would like to see more and I invite readers to take up similar themes. Power’s article is about the positioning of ICT in the question of the democratic legitimacy of the European Union. Reflecting on a wide range of ideas, he examines how the EU uses ICT in general and in particular used ICT in the European Parliament elections of 2009. He also examines how our politicians see the role of ICT in democracy at European level. The article provides a rich vein of material for thought, discussion and further research. If any reader would like to pen a response or reflection on it, I would be pleased to consider it.

Finally in this issue, Tony Susanto and Robert Goodwin explore the use of short messaging service (SMS) technology by government. Despite the enormous popularity of this technology, the authors point out that there has as yet been no significant study of its use as an e‑ (or more accurately m‑) government tool. Using a multinational telephone survey which threw up some intriguing findings including that perceived efficiency in time and distant was the second most influential factor in take‑up after perceived ease of use, the authors observe that this suggests that citizens are cost conscious about such services. Another interesting finding (which may have wider implications) is that people like SMS because they perceive that they are dealing with people; they do not like talking to machines. There are other findings in their work, too many to summarise here, but this article also provides a trove of further research possibilities.

 

Keywords: acceptance factors, adoption model, Botswana, cyberparliament, democratic deficit, digital reporting, eConsultation, e-democracy, e-filing, e-Government, emulation, e-service European Union, feature inspection method, internet technology, leadership, legitimacy, local authorities, Malaysia, perceived risk, policies, professional networks, public services, SADC, Six Level model of SMS-based e-government, SMS, taxation, technology acceptance model, technology adoption, Uganda, users’ behaviour, web usability, websites, Zambia

 

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