The Public Value of eGovernment
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The ultimate question about the success of eGovernment depends on how citizens perceive its value. Although the literature highlights the primacy of the user in evaluating Information Systems (IS), little is known about what citizens¿ value in their experience of eGovernment. Furthermore, understanding success is a complex challenge in IS, made more difficult when set in the public sector environment. Public sector evaluation must combine efficiency, quality and reliability with accountability, openness and the creation of trust. Traditional measures of evaluation are limited however, as they fall short of reflecting the potential value and impact of technology on the individual. The challenge for this study therefore, was to understand the value perceptions of citizens, in the unique context of eGovernment. The DeLone and McLean IS Success Model provided a theoretical framework within which to develop a conceptual understanding of Net Benefits. This study is distinctive however, as it uses Public Value theory to re-specify the DeLone and McLean IS Success Model, for measuring eGovernment success. This study also addresses a major deficiency in eGovernment research, where the views of citizens have been neglected thus far. This research was structured according to two overall questions. The first question sought to identify the conceptual dimensions of the eGovernment Net Benefits construct. Accordingly, the research followed a rigorous construct development methodology and employed two sets of survey respondents, 90 and 347 experienced eGovernment users respectively, to confirm a nine-factor structure for eGovernment Net Benefits. Confirmatory psychometric evidence suggests that the measure is reliable and valid and that the eGovernment Net Benefits measure can explain a major portion of the variance in citizens' perceptions towards eGovernment success. Additionally, the nine-factor structure was re-specified for three identified eGovernment user groups: Passive, Active and Participatory, in order to better understand success in specific contexts. The second question sought to develop this understanding of eGovernment success, by examining the impact of IT Quality dimensions. Information Quality constructs are particularly relevant for Passive users of eGovernment and the findings point to areas where web site designers should focus to ensure quality standards (e.g. the Relevance and Completeness of information) are met. This research also identified, for the first time, perceived benefits from eGovernment 2.0 services and the quality features that affect that perception. The influence of Empathy on Participation is a significant finding and supports the efficacy of using Web 2.0 technologies to engage citizens. Maintaining high Information Quality (Relevance and Accuracy) was identified as an important condition on the success of this impact however. The consequences for how government agencies construct, maintain and support the quality of Web 2.0 initiatives may therefore be more resource intensive than first envisaged. Finally, a consistent outcome was the low predictive value of System Quality. Web 2.0 technologies were an important feature of the empirical basis of this research and it is interesting that other quality constructs appear to have supplanted the expected explanatory power of traditional perceptions of Ease of Use. The findings have valuable implications for academics and practitioners in the pursuit of eGovernment Success.
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