Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Public Attitudes towards Government Restructuring of IT Public Services: Application to E-Government in the Middle East

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Public Attitudes towards Government Restructuring of IT Public Services: Application to E-Government in the Middle East

Article excerpt

We propose an analytical framework that shows the relationship between customer attitudes, and e-Government development. Then we test the framework using data from the Middle East and Lebanon. The dependent variable is a measure of end-user expected acceptance of and participation in e-Government. The independent variables represent indicators that we recommend as measures to gauge citizen readiness to adopt such solutions. Independent variables are (1) overall confidence, (2) trust in information security, (3) government processing capabilities, (4) contribution to government restructuring, (5) accuracy of government online information, and (6) improving long term government policies. Primary data was collected from 245 respondents in Lebanon where government modernization is needed. We found that the citizen puts value on all six dimensions. While the first, second, third, and fifth dimensions are positively and significantly related to citizen participation in e-Government, the fourth one is insignificant, and the sixth one negatively correlated. Lack of significance is partially due to low citizen expectations, and the negative correlation of improving policies reflects citizen perception that most policies enacted over the last ten years have been predatory. We also found significant differences among Middle Eastern countries' status in e-Government, and citizen predisposition.

Introduction

Information and communication technology (ITC) is a growing factor affecting all aspects of our lives. These rapid advances pushed governments around the globe to explore, understand, adopt, and operate electronic interactive sendees with their customers. In our recent survey in Lebanon, most people describing their governmental services refer to bureaucracy, inefficiency, frustration, and far from what the citizen is looking for. In that logic, the government needs to sharply listen and respond to the needs of citizens. Many argue that the use of information technology (IT) carries many advantages such as transparency, speed in processing, minimization of human error, and know-how in the market in terms of suppliers and stakeholders.

Surveys in Europe showed that the acceptance rate of public e-services is rising but not at the expected speed as planned by national and union governments (Cap Gemini, 2005). The whole idea of having the Government operate as a virtual organization may be counter-intuitive to many (Foster et al., 2001). But upon further consideration, one finds that the effort to get something done in e-Government becomes better defined and scoped as soon as the such services are launched and put to use, and as long as the learning loop from user feedback is operative (Layne and Lee, 2001). Cap Gemini (2005) presents a four stage model to illustrate the relationship between technological level and service level. The lowest level of sophistication is about making information available to the reader or citizen. The second level involves a one-way communication with information relevant to the person's life being processed and sent out in a timely manner. The third level involves a two-way communication whereby the user interacts and provides responses and feedback about his needs, and whether the information sent resolves his inquiry. The fourth level enables the user to safely perform full Government service transactions. Most government services stagnate at the information availability level, i.e. the lowest service level, despite vast technological possibilities.

E-Government Application and Maturity Concepts

The use of IT to improve performance in an organization is an established concept, as it has been proven over time and translated into tangible business benefits (Alter, 2002). Such findings are not new. The use information is not just limited to basic information flow from one person to another to accomplish routine tasks, but rather a powerful tool that requires the processing of information to turn it into knowledge, and using that knowledge in critical managerial decisions (Chalhoub, 1996; Cooke and Slack, 1991). …

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