The Electronic Journal of e-Government aims to publish perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Government
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Journal Issue

Volume 1 Issue 1 / Mar 2003  pp1‑62

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The growth of e‑government over the past few years has been remarkable – all the more so given the miserable experience of e‑business over the same period. Despite the dot.com crash, interest in e‑government is still growing with an increasing number of conferences, publications and special editions of journals dedicated to this topic. That there is a need for regular publications dedicated to this field (and the related field of e‑democracy) is now evident. That a new publication should be electronic is common sense.

With its traditional conservatism, the academy is slowly edging away from the world of print and toward the world of electronic publication. If one thinks about it, a print journal dedicated to e‑business in any of its forms looks increasingly anomalous in this day and age. So the launch of an Electronic Journal of e‑Government is not only timely, but also in keeping with a longer term migration of academic publication away from the tyranny of paper.

Up to now, much of the reluctance to move to electronic publishing in the academic world has had to do with concerns about quality. Established print journals have elaborate peer‑review processes that not only ensure that what is published is high quality, but that also deliver credibility when presented in CVs to promotion boards or a tenure committees. Just about anybody with a basic knowledge of HTML can publish a journal on the web and the result is a great deal of dross masquerading as serious work. However there is no reason why an electronic journal should not apply equally strict standards and carry just as much weight as its paper cousins provided clear reviewing and publications procedures are rigorously applied. Given these, the ease of availability, the speed of dissemination and the relatively low, sometimes zero, access cost for readers create an overwhelming case for this medium. While it would be rash to predict the imminent demise of the printed journal, it is probable that that in ten years time selected sites on the web (or its successor) will, at the very least, be just as prestigious a forum in which to publish.

The Electronic Journal of E‑Government therefore welcomes submissions from contributors in all areas of e‑government and e‑democracy. The editors are particularly concerned that the coverage should be international and the journal will encompass both theoretical papers, empirical research and/or papers describing practice from both the academic and practitioner communities. It is intended to establish this journal as a seminal source of good research and practice information on e‑government.

Finally, while there is a solid and rapidly growing literature on e‑government, e‑democracy is not by any means as well served. For this reason we would particularly welcome articles on e‑democracy and particularly on the potential for and limits of information and communications technologies to make for a more democratic and politically engaged society.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 2 Issue 1 / Jul 2004  pp1‑74

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The growth of e‑government over the past few years has been remarkable – all the more so given the miserable experience of e‑business over the same period. Despite the dot.com crash, interest in e‑government is still growing with an increasing number of conferences, publications and special editions of journals dedicated to this topic. That there is a need for regular publications dedicated to this field (and the related field of e‑democracy) is now evident. That a new publication should be electronic is common sense.

With its traditional conservatism, the academy is slowly edging away from the world of print and toward the world of electronic publication. If one thinks about it, a print journal dedicated to e‑business in any of its forms looks increasingly anomalous in this day and age. So the launch of an Electronic Journal of e‑Government is not only timely, but also in keeping with a longer term migration of academic publication away from the tyranny of paper.

Up to now, much of the reluctance to move to electronic publishing in the academic world has had to do with concerns about quality. Established print journals have elaborate peer‑review processes that not only ensure that what is published is high quality, but that also deliver credibility when presented in CVs to promotion boards or a tenure committees. Just about anybody with a basic knowledge of HTML can publish a journal on the web and the result is a great deal of dross masquerading as serious work. However there is no reason why an electronic journal should not apply equally strict standards and carry just as much weight as its paper cousins provided clear reviewing and publications procedures are rigorously applied. Given these, the ease of availability, the speed of dissemination and the relatively low, sometimes zero, access cost for readers create an overwhelming case for this medium. While it would be rash to predict the imminent demise of the printed journal, it is probable that that in ten years time selected sites on the web (or its successor) will, at the very least, be just as prestigious a forum in which to publish.

The Electronic Journal of E‑Government therefore welcomes submissions from contributors in all areas of e‑government and e‑democracy. The editors are particularly concerned that the coverage should be international and the journal will encompass both theoretical papers, empirical research and/or papers describing practice from both the academic and practitioner communities. It is intended to establish this journal as a seminal source of good research and practice information on e‑government.

Finally, while there is a solid and rapidly growing literature on e‑government, e‑democracy is not by any means as well served. For this reason we would particularly welcome articles on e‑democracy and particularly on the potential for and limits of information and communications technologies to make for a more democratic and politically engaged society.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 2 Issue 2, ECEG 2004 / Aug 2004  pp75‑146

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The contents of this issue have been selected from amongst the best papers presented at the 4th European Conference on e‑Government held in Dublin in June 2004. As specialist conferences go, this was a large event with over 100 papers and authors from over 30 countries. Many more submissions had to be turned away for lack of room in the timetable.

As conference chair, I only managed to make it to a small number of sessions, but everything I heard was of a high standard – not something I can say of every conference paper I have sat through in my time! Choosing the papers to appear in the Journal was not easy and all the papers worthy of publication will not fit in one issue. We will therefore be publishing further papers from the conference in future editions including a future issue which will contain a selection of country specific contributions.

The first of the papers in this edition, by John Borras, is on the vexed question of standards in e‑government. I am old enough to remember the early days of open systems where there were as many proprietary operating systems as there were brands of motor car. Today the benefits of open systems are taken for granted. We need to tread the same path in public administration and government. There is wealth of useful information in this paper which anybody working in these fields should read and note.

Tom Butler et al’s paper is a rich contribution at several levels. It not only brings together the two fields of knowledge management and government/administration, but does so in the context of an action research project. Good action research can be hard to find and this is a rare example of how to do it properly. The Portable Knowledge Asset Development System (pKADS) is a downloadable tool built around the concept of knowledge assets. This paper described both a neat piece of research as well as a useful addition to the open source software family.

Toni Carbo and James Williams explore the problems of measuring the performance of digital government. The authors look underneath the surface of e‑Government metrics to the complexities of measuring real impact and achievement including complex questions not just of measurement itself, but of ethical and political issues. This paper is unusual in that much of it describes a project that is about to start, nonetheless what makes it of interest is the contextualisation of this project. In laying out their stall, Carbo and Williams raise issues that need more discussion than they have received up to now.

Jyoti Choudrie et al look at performance metric from a different perspective. Rather than being just another web site evaluation, this uses at tool called WebXact to look at problems with system accessibility – particularly for users with a disability. The authors chose a number of government portals from amongst those assessed as world leaders (Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland and Australia) to investigate and the results are informative. Many of the sites had problems and the research suggests that governments at the leading edge have some distance to travel to get some of the basics right. What then, might one infer about the lower ranked?

The somewhat unfashionable subject of methodologies is the topic of Lee Eddowes contribution. While there has been a battle between the hard and soft schools for many years, methodologies have come under particular attack in recent years, Claudio Ciborra is one of their most vociferous critics. Nonetheless, they are still popular although some of the older approaches such as SSADM and Prince 2 are arguably not that effective for development of e‑Government projects. Eddowes examines a number of more recent developments using several examples and concludes that some of the problems with e‑Government are not about failures of methodologies or tools, but are more due to a lack of clarity of direction in government thinking.

Andy Ellis looks at e‑Government through the lens of new institution economics (NIE). NIE is about the relationship between the firm and the market and incorporates concepts from transaction economics, agency theory and other fields. Ellis presents an integrative model which he applies to two areas of government – education and bidding for e‑Government contracts. The study of the economics of e‑Government is in its embryonic stage and this paper is a useful contribution which challenges the reader to think about issues from a novel perspective.

Paul Foley examines a problem that has become an important political and social question as e‑Government spreads, the problem of social exclusion. This is an example of what might be called good, solid, old fashioned research, i.e. getting out and talking to the excluded as opposed to sitting at one’s desk and counting broadband connections and web hits. The study is rich in interesting findings about how the disadvantaged actually use technology when it is made available to them. The findings are illuminating.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 2 Issue 3 / Sep 2004  pp147‑218

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 3 Issue 1 / Jul 2005  pp1‑58

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 3 Issue 2, Issue on e-Democracy / Oct 2005  pp59‑98

Editor: Mary Griffiths

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Editorial

Is an ‘e‑citizen’ fundamentally different from a ‘citizen’; is ‘e‑democracy’ ontologically different from ‘democracy’? The concepts ‘e‑citizen’ and ‘e‑democracy’ present a substantial challenge for researchers in the crossover fields of new media, politics and government : that of precise, or workable, definitions. Should the hyphenated prefix – and thus perhaps technology alone – determine the shape of research? Or, as others as well as the present writer have argued, can e‑democracy also be thought of as the whole mediated public sphere of online political and civic communication, and learning, in democracies, and thus an ‘e‑citizen’ be thought of as a ‘thing’ in the process of ‘becoming’?

Although e‑democracy has frequently been seen as a natural evolution, a ‘next step’ in the e‑government agenda of ensuring transparency, broadening citizen participation, and deepening, and making more relevant, citizen‑government relationships, it is also the product of new communication practices. For example, in the longish, hyperlinked entry in wikipedia, the anonymous, multiple‑authored online encyclopaedia, it is clear that collaborative composition and distribution of information – wiki – have effectively changed relations of power in the digital age, and will continue to do so, empowering citizens to share knowledge and exercise power. Of course, wikipedia’s information bears none of the imprimatur of national print authorities, nor any of the limitations of the print publication and distribution of dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Anyone can submit an explanatory entry, and critique an entry. The status of online definitions, explanations and extended discussion and analysis is constantly under question, and open to re‑writing by anyone. Gone is the waiting, sometimes for years, for new phenomena to be accepted and understood sufficiently to ‘make’ a dictionary or encyclopaedia entry : the process of consensus about meaning operates in a speedier time frame, and more openly, if anonymously.

The same distributive power is a feature of knowledge exchange at the global civil activist level. The threat of an avian flu ‘pandemic,’ rivalling that of the ‘Spanish flu’ a century ago, has resulted in an interactive online community dedicated to sharing knowledge about flu outbreaks, scientific knowledge, on the ground commentary about government responses, and information about health practices across the globe. Both wikipedia and www.fluwikie.com are evidence of ‘technologies of co‑operation’ to use Howard Rheingold’s phrase, and are among many other new online writing practices and genres where politically active, socially committed citizens individually, or in mobilised collectives, can now make an unprecedented mark on political and social relations at the national and international level. The impetus comes from the grassroots, the solutions are shared. The blogosphere, and other non‑professional, non‑institutional distribution networks, such as customisation and re‑packaging of media services have had an impact on the everyday life of citizen‑consumers, as well as – more spectacularly in the case of txting – on particular political regimes ( for example, in the Philippines). The same is true of interactivity between representatives and the represented in opinion‑polling, conducted by newspapers and online news distributors. Finally, e‑commerce itself has been affected. The making of multinational ‘communities’ around brand blogs is another feature of the radical shaking up of traditional kinds of capital‑consumer, capital‑citizen relationships. The managing of what the market calls ‘user‑generated‑content’ in the digital arena has itself become big business, as companies seek to contain and re‑assemble information which they have not produced themselves.

Major features of current e‑democracy debates are about similar new media phenomena : the effectiveness of online participatory consultation, the validity of e‑voting, public trust in online financial transactions, the security and extent of the data held by government, the increased potential of government intrusiveness into private lives, the accountability and responsiveness of politicians and public servants to citizen interactions, the interoperability of e‑systems of government, and the digital and political divides.

The current selection of ejeg papers, from Canada, Belgium, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and the UK, responds to a call for discussions and analyses of the e‑citizen, within the broader explanatory framework of e‑democracy. From cultural, technological, cross‑national, political and ethical perspectives – the papers offer a rethinking of the potential of online modes of democratic practice. As the wiki examples demonstrate, knowledge can be personally or collectively made and shared, and this kind of practice confirms in many people’s minds the idea that the internet is of itself democratic and participatory. Yet there are problems with such optimism.



Christie Hurrell ’s paper on the internet as a ‘public sphere,’ based on an extended analysis of a four‑month long Canadian online consultation called ‘The Foreign Policy Dialogue’, engages with this optimistic belief in internet‑enabled citizen power, and assesses the civility which is increasingly necessary as a democratic literacy, if ‘e‑citizens’ are to function in effective online policy discussions. Hurrell mentions that citizens are ‘increasingly knowledgeable about public policy issues,’ and her detailed study of the online discourse on policy dismisses the belief that ‘most political discussion online is necessarily rude and divisive.’ Yet her paper ends with a series of questions about the impact of such discussions on government. Ways have to be found by governments to meet the raised expectations of citizens, if cynicism is not to replace respectful deliberative policy input.

Given the explosion of online communication, and multiple new forms of online distribution of information, it could be said that e‑government has frequently taken a rather conservative path. Driven by the admirable principles of transparency, cost‑effectiveness and accountability, e‑government is still dominated by finding technological solutions to digital governance, often attempting to replicate face‑to‑face practices with new digital equivalencies and business systems: examples include replacing the ballot with online voting, or the provision of online means of paying taxes. If questions of technology assume a priority role in research, systems development, access and usability issues, and business strategies, plans and costings become the central foci. Business applications and technical solutions to the wider implementation of e‑voting for example, are sought, based on the results of smaller pilot studies and programs. This is true of the two papers on aspects of ‘e‑voting’, one of the potential markers of electronically enabled democracy, which is sometimes seen stand, by itself, for ‘e‑democracy’. Xenakis and Macintosh tackle the issues of applying ‘business process re‑engineering’ to the e‑voting process in the UK. Their paper identifies the diverse issues involved in managing the complex design of such democratic practices. This design is seen, in Table 1, to encompass consideration of legal and social issues such as validation, eligibility and trust, technical issues such as reliability and compliance, with political issues such as political support and voter turnout, with the cost analyses and interoperability features of a business model. The paper on a Belgian experiment in facilitating e‑voting registration, by de Vuyst and Fairchild, deals with many of the same issues of access, security and compliance, but from the perspective of a national micro‑study which sets out the cultural and political particulars of Belgium’s need to move to new means of increasing voter turnout, given that it has, like Australia, compulsory voting.

When ‘democracy’ and ‘citizen’ take precedence rather than technology, the focus of e‑democracy research tends to be elsewhere, on the outcomes of the changes to government , administrative and democratic cultures which new media forms enable through an unprecedented range of speedy and easy interactions : between government and citizens, citizens and citizens, and government and government. What kinds of impact are these phenomena producing? One answer is that different kinds of democratic practice are emerging – and a movement from representative democracies towards ones with more ‘horizontal’ participatory and deliberative potential. This movement has the possible consequences of losses of power in the executive and administrative arms of government; and sometimes, paradoxically, less space for reflection and deliberation on decision‑making because of the speed and number of communication exchanges.

Government manages parts of this process, not always with a careful enough scrutiny of the kinds of democracy or citizen it is producing. E‑government’s mirroring of e‑commerce with its emphasis on client‑provider discourses and other practices derived from online business, is critiqued in Bernd Stahl’s paper. He argues, against the e‑commerce perspective, that e‑democracy occupies a distinctively different, ethical domain, one which presents questions of legitimacy and power which cannot be contained entirely by business processes and protocols. Centeno, van Bavel and Burgelman’s paper argues that reformed public services in the EU should become the modernising and interoperable means through which ‘public value’ is added to the act of governing. The authors state : ‘A prospective view of e‑Government in the EU for the next decade defines eGovernment as a tool for better government… The new vision also encompasses the provision of better public administration, more efficient, transparent, open, and participative governance and the implementation of more democratic political processes.’ In such a vision the management of knowledge, and the empowerment of the citizen are primary. The role of intermediaries – ‘private, social and public partners’ with government ‑ in distributing knowledge and the value of networked governments across the EU are highlighted in this paper.

In all, the papers reflect the field of e‑democracy research itself : there is a tendency to produce micro‑level studies, as a way of tackling larger philosophical concerns and anxieties about democratic structures, which the impact of new media and the loss of citizen enthusiasm for the ballot have caused. The challenges of e‑democracy present when traditional communication power relationships alter and when citizens become as adept as (or more skilful than) public servants and politicians in the online environment. The biggest challenge for e‑government is effective democratic engagement with citizens, not just with ‘consumers’ or ‘clients’. The biggest challenge for citizens is to develop the online literacies to participate, in all the new ways which technology enables.

We hope to continue discussions at the next ECEG conference in Marburg, where a mini‑track on e‑democracy is planned . We are interested in papers which present e‑democracy pilots and case studies, or address e‑democracy challenges posed by, for example:

— setting an e‑democracy agenda at government level;

— citizens' wider access to ICTs, and the skills and means to generate and distribute content;

— citizen trust in online participation and dialogue;

— deciding the correct balance between online and offline citizen/government, citizen/citizen interactions;

— exploiting the civic learning potential of emerging online tools and new media forms (games, blogs, wiki).

I hope to see some of you there.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government Civility, Distance voting, e-Commerce, e-Democracy, e-Government, Elections, Electronic democracy, Electronic government, Electronic voting, Ethics, e-Voting, Knowledge creation, Knowledge use, Law, Legitimacy, Morality, Networked government, Online discussion, Policy, Pprocedural security, Public – private partnerships, Public sphere, Public value, Responsibility, User participation, User-centric government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 3 Issue 3 / Nov 2005  pp99‑156

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, Accessibility guidelines, Administration, Administrative workflows, Benchmarking, Citizen interaction, Country case study, Diffusion, Digital divide, e-Government, e-Procurement, Institutions, Internet access, Inter-organizational systems, Legal constraints, Measuring e-Government, Municipalities, Mutual aid, Non-conforming case, Policy, Public process modeling, Public sector, Slovenia, Tools, Web style guide, Web testing and evaluation and assistive technology

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 4 Issue 1 / Nov 2006  pp1‑48

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The number of e‑government events in terms of conferences, mini‑tracks, special issues of journals and books continues to grow at a pace which is, on the one hand, enormously encouraging, but on the other vaguely depressing. Encouraging because it is great to see so much interest in the subject and the steady increase in both the variety and quality of research; depressing because it has become well nigh impossible to keep up with everything that it happening. Still, it is probably a good complaint to have. As a journal editor, it is healthy to receive an increasing number of articles arrive in my in‑tray. Whether or not articles are eventually published, there is always something to learn from them.

In this edition we have five articles which illustrate the diversity and richness of electronic government as a field of research. Sell et al’s paper is an examination of the practical outcomes of an initiative in Finland to assist members of the community who might have difficulty accessing the grocery markets in the city of Turku (I have actually had the pleasure of wandering around a grocery market in Turku so this paper had a personal resonance for me). This was, in the authors’ words, a bold initiative and their paper compares what the sponsors of the project expected to happen with what actually occurred.

Dillon et al look at developments on the other side of the globe with a longitudinal study of local e‑government in New Zealand. Their study looks at how the use of web based services evolved over a four year period. Their findings about the development paths followed by the local authorities leads them to suggest that there are still plenty of opportunities for using the web strategically in New Zealand local government and provides a platform for comparative papers from other countries.

e‑Government is a broad church. Government activities can range from managing the nation’s finances to running the national airline. One big area of public sector expenditure is healthcare. The article by Khoumbati and Themistocleous examines the use of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) in healthcare services. They identify six common factors that are found in a variety of different integration approaches including EAI, EDI, ERP and web services and propose a conceptual model for the adoption of EAI in healthcare service providers. They suggest that there is much scope for further research into this approach to integration.

The article by Andersen is at a more conceptual level than the others in this issue. He asserts that there are five significant challenges facing e‑government today and explores each of these in turn. He tracks the major shifts in the use of IT in government over the past four decades and argues that there are dangers in current approaches such as a focus on defining boundaries rather than defining services. The author examines the problem of confronting the ‘demand paradox’ and explores some interesting byways, such as the use of IT to avoid work! All in all, this is a thought provoking contribution to the field.

Finally, Henriksen’s paper explores the demand for electronic services in Danish local government at the level of municipalities. The research approach use, examination of log files is an interesting one and there are several informative analyses including the types of services offered and the ratio of users to potential users of these services – a graph which, at a glance, tell the reader a great deal. Like Dillon et al, Henricksen concludes that there is still much to be done in developing the use of IT in local administration.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government, open care, efficiency, electronic grocery shopping, e-government, strategy, management, demand, entities, gate-keeping, labor intensity, readiness, competence, local government, policy, electronic citizen services, supply and demand, healthcare, adoption, Enterprise Application Integration

 

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