An influential theoretical tradition in information systems research suggests that information and communication technology has the power to transform organizational structures and individual behaviors. This approach has been called “technological determinism.” In contrast, recent studies have found evidence of more complex relationships between information technologies and the organizational and institutional contexts in which those technologies are embedded (Fountain, 2001; Kling & Lamb, 2000; Orlikowski & Baroudi, 1991). The theories that Orlikowski and Iacono (2001) have categorized as the “ensemble view” explain that information technologies should not be conceptualized as physical artifacts only, but that the social relations around those artifacts should also be considered. In addition, the relationship between information technologies and social structures is at least bidirectional, and therefore organizational characteristics and institutional arrangements also have an impact on government ICT projects (Fountain; García, 2005; Kraemer, King, Dunkle, & Lane, 1989). As a result of this embedment of ICT in government settings, certain characteristics of the information technologies are expected to reflect important aspects of the institutional and organizational environment and, therefore, help preserve the status quo instead of promoting change (Fountain; Kraemer et al.).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Digital Signature: A digital signature is any procedure of encryption for the purpose of information or transactional safety, which is intended to be equivalent to a hand-written signature.
E-Budgeting: E-budgeting is any ICT application or tool for budgetary functions, procedures, or services across the budgetary cycle (planning, programming, budgeting, appropriations, control, and evaluation of financial resources).
Accountability: According to Robert Behn (2001), individuals exercise accountability in four ways: For finance, when we establish detailed expectations about how public officials will handle public resources; for fairness or equity, when we create values, principles, and ethical standards to ensure that government and its employees treat its citizens fairly; for use (or abuse) of power, when we create rules to limit the discretion of public officials and to prevent those officials from abusing their power and discretion in finances or fairness; and finally, for performance, when we define the expectations for the actual outcomes that public officials will achieve using public resources and their invested power.
E-Project: An e-project is any initiative that involves the design, implementation, and use of ICT applications for institutional or organizational purposes.
Administrative Reform: It is any initiative to improve the management performance of any public organization or institution in government by using managerial techniques, best practices, and recommendations.
ICT Embedment: The term is used to describe how information technologies do not operate in a vacuum or in isolation of their context. Instead, information technologies affect and are affected by organizational structures and processes, as well as institutional arrangements.
Accountability Bias: This is the expected partiality from accountability holders used to concentrating their efforts and resources on building ICT infrastructure for monitoring finance and fairness, thus giving much less attention to performance. Codifying accountability for finance or fairness in explicit rules is normally easier than codifying accountability for performance in government.
Performance: Performance involves a set of measurements that indicate the level of how an individual, group, organization, or institution is achieving a goal or a set of goals.
Budgetary Cycle: It is a process of the management of funds and resources during a period of time that involves planning, programming, integrating, presenting a project, authorizing appropriations, calendaring funds, and controlling, evaluating, and auditing according to a group of rules, systems, procedures, transactions, standards, manuals, policies, and regulations.