Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

E-Government and E-Governance Best Practices in Cities and Countries Compared between 2003 and 2012: Fad or Diffused Innovation?

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

E-Government and E-Governance Best Practices in Cities and Countries Compared between 2003 and 2012: Fad or Diffused Innovation?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE

Early appraisals of the Internet's impact on the public sector are not uniformly optimistic. For example, Hyde (2001) proclaims it might be a temporary fad that would eventually fade away. In retrospect, this questioning forecast might not be entirely false. A lasting feature of academic studies is their expressed reservations concerning jurisdictional failures to extend the Internet's (purported) benefits to constituents (Moon, 2002; Norris, 2003; Coursey & Norris, 2008; Gronlund, 2010). Largely based on measuring public sector Websites, the relevant literature assumes that jurisdictions should continuously improve digitized government by offering enhanced customer services and affording heightened opportunities for citizen involvement. In many cases, the ensuing research uncovers that cities and countries do not deliver; yet, few studies attempt to contrast these jurisdictions, or to test them longitudinally. This study intends to fill that gap. It analyzes worldwide public sector Website best practices in cities and countries over time. For cities, the research employs surveys managed by the E-Governance Institute of Rutgers University in New Jersey and for countries by the evaluations prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN). Conduct of these data-sets nominally materialize in the same biannual years.

The paper pursues two objectives. The main purpose explores what is occurring to jurisdictional Websites between 2003 and 2012--a decade that elaborated on the basic innovation. No other study addresses this "what happened" question either comparatively or longitudinally. The other study purpose grows out of the resulting findings, that is: can any differences in performance be explained through the application of established theories of information technology (IT) and social change? Again, the paper's contribution to the field of digitized government research is unequaled, as findings are rarely interpreted with theories. Put differently, this paper advances the field in a meaningful way by redressing deficiencies prevalent in the criticisms of observers. Surely, it is certainly important to determine the pertinent "why" issues involved with this study's objectives, but it is preliminarily vital for research: [1] to learn what is happening to cities and countries comparatively and longitudinally and [2] to interpret the findings with theoretical formulations.

THE STUDY'S OUTLINE

This study opens by briefly clarifying two methodological issues. One issue involves the field's definitional disputes, about which the paper suggests a solution. The second methodological issue addresses why this research focuses on best practices of cities and countries. Then a description of the two worldwide data-sets follows. A majority of the paper presents the ensuing findings. The discussion section embeds the findings in relation to a recognized theoretical framework of information technology (IT) and social change (Garson, 2006). Complementing the originality of comparing cities and countries over time, this utilization of a theoretical perspective also enlarges the field's research agenda. The conclusions concentrate on interpreting the findings and suggesting future research topics.

Methodology 1: Presenting Issues of Definitional Disagreements

Despite the youthfulness of digitized government research, this categorization cannot fully justify the absence of agreement on basic definitions, as the situation restricts constructing a coherent body of knowledge (Misra, 2007a; Hassan et al., 2011). Broadly or narrowly conceived, incompatible terminology obstructs the field fostering empirical cumulativeness and undermines satisfying theoretical expectations (Lee et al., 2011). At the least, as Flak et al. (2007) stress: settling definitional issues requires the field's researchers achieving consensus on essential language. …

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