Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

E-Government Portal Information Performance and the Role of Local Community Interest. Empirical Support for a Model of Citizen Perceptions

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

E-Government Portal Information Performance and the Role of Local Community Interest. Empirical Support for a Model of Citizen Perceptions

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The scientific discourse in the field of e-government exhibits strong optimism about the usefulness and potential impact of this new instrument of public administration (Bekkers and Homburg 2007). However, the mere presence of e-government offers does not suffice to induce positive effects in society (Morgeson and Petrescu 2011). In most cases complex attitudinal multivariate studies that address the success factors behind e-government usage rely solely on models of acceptance or satisfaction (Rana et al. 2011). Typically, they adapt theoretical approaches and empirical scales from rather technology-oriented models from information system research, notably the DeLone & McLean IS success model, and electronic commerce, such as SERVQUAL, to the public administration context. The DeLone and McLean IS success model is a framework that consists of diverse interrelated and interdependent success measures, categorized into system quality, service quality, information quality, use, user satisfaction, individual impact, and organizational impact, for measuring the complex dependent variable in information systems research (DeLone and McLean 1992; DeLone 2003). SERVQUAL is a multiple-item scale that retailers can use to enhance their understanding on the customers' service expectations to improve service (Parasuraman et al. 2002). The scale encompasses the five services quality dimensions tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (Parasuraman et al. 2002). However, the usefulness of retesting established general models is increasingly being challenged by scholars even as the number of corresponding publications grows (Rana et al. 2011). Furthermore, scientific research has largely focused on established models of information system research to explain citizens' usage behavior when it comes to e-government offers. This allows for only limited specificity in research results and practical implications or recommendations. It follows that there persists a lack of knowledge of the concrete determinants of success, the attributes, the mental models, or the attitudes that lead to behavioral routines (Benbasat et al. 2007). This view is further supported by Morgeson et al. (2011) who state that more basic empirical findings are needed to better understand the attitudes and behaviour of e-government users and to provide further strategic direction as well as to support practical implementation (Morgeson, van Amburg, and Mithas 2011, 283). And also Hung et al. (2006) as well as Coursey and Norris (2008) mention that the factors shaping user perceptions of e-government offers at the local level have not yet been fully explained (Hung, Chang, and Yu 2006; Coursey and Norris 2008). But this research gap cannot be filled by applying technology-oriented acceptance or satisfaction models. For this reason, the methodological focus needs to be shifted to a user-centric perspective. Apart from that, it is still hard for public administration officials to define target groups and design their e-government offers since quantifiable rating scales for user-oriented platform adjusting are scarcely to be found or difficult to apply (Traunmuller and Wimmer 2003). Therefore, the central research purpose of this study is to identify specific dimensions of user-perception that influence usage behavior.

And against the background, that there have already been identified manifold moderators to e-government usage, such as age, gender, or general media use (Van Dijk et al. 2008), but the moderating conditions of e-government success models are still not thoroughly understood (Niehaves and Plattfaut 2010), an additional concept is investigated that may be of further explanatory relevance. This concept, which we call local community interest, is a bundle of attitudes covering cultural heritage and regional commitment, which can be understood as a degree of activeness and interest in the daily life of the municipality as a social entity. …

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