E-Governance Opportunities in Developing Countries: Lessons Learned from Korea's Experience

By Choi, Heejin | Journal of Development Communication, June 2009 | Go to article overview

E-Governance Opportunities in Developing Countries: Lessons Learned from Korea's Experience


Choi, Heejin, Journal of Development Communication


Innovations in communications and information technology have been introduced at a rapid speed in our society in the last decade. These phenomena often called the Information Revolution or Information Technology Revolution can be compared to the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This information revolution has been observed through computer technology, the information society, the process and speed of computer innovations, and the characteristics of predictions. The role of government started focusing on the function of being a supporter of public and private enterprises. This included a shift from controlling and monitoring business activities to promoting entrepreneurship and creativity.

Governance has a wide variety of meanings, from the acquisition of authority by the state to manage public goods and services, to the accountability and transparency of the legitimate usage of power by the state. According to Riley (2001), "e-governance is the commitment to utilise appropriate technologies to enhance governmental relationships, both internal and external, in order to advance democratic expression, human dignity and autonomy, support economic development, and encourage the fair and efficient delivery of services." (1) Through information and communications technology (ICT), introduction of e-governance can improve the quality of governance products and services being currently offered, provide new governance services and products, enhance participation of people in the choice and provision of governance products and services, and bring new social strata within the governance area including, for example, the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, migrants and displaced people. Citizens need no longer to remain as the passive recipients of governance services provided to them; instead, they become able to decide proactively the types and standards of governance services they want and the governance structures which can best deliver them.

Thus e-government includes an entire spectrum of relations between people in the process of public management of society; it is not a one-way but a multiple-way communication process. It is about listening and speaking so that citizens can provide the governments with the best solutions to manage our society. Moreover, without the corresponding institutional reform of the civil service system and organisational reform of its agencies, e-government may only lead to limited success in enhancing accountability. (2)

Globalisation and the New Priorities

Globalisation and increased trade have exposed the economies of developing countries to competitive pressures and global standards. Most developing countries have adjusted their policies and institutional practices to take advantage of the new global trading regime under the World Trade Organisation, which has required governments to respond to the challenges of globalisation. With the advent of globalisation of economies, the following factors are being prioritised in both the private and public sectors: citizens as customers, market, organisation, information, and global investors', power. Each of these is discussed in the following paragraphs.

Citizens as customer power

This factor stems from the fact that the citizen remains at the heart of any government services. This power compels the government to move from a bureaucratic mode to a responsive mode to deliver values to the citizens. An innovative government understands the context of citizen power and envisions the space of government and citizen relationships. At times, citizen organisations, business sectors, and non-governmental organisations voice their opinions and contribute to improve their quality of life.

Market power

The irreversible force of our contemporary interlinked economy of the borderless world generates time-based competition. Coupled with the common use of digital technology, this force compels the government to learn faster and more responsive ways of providing services so as to maximise value for all the stakeholders. …

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E-Governance Opportunities in Developing Countries: Lessons Learned from Korea's Experience
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