Does National Culture Have Any Impact on E-Government Usage?

Does National Culture Have Any Impact on E-Government Usage?

Mohammad I. Merhi (Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2018070103
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The motivation of this article was the lack of empirical evidence regarding the relationship between culture and actual usage of ICTs/e-government. By using Hofstede's cultural framework, this article explains the influence of national culture on e-government usage across countries controlled by socio-economic factors, specifically, GDP and literacy rate. Data was collected from reputable organizations such as World Bank databases and Hofstede's website. Ordinary least square and truncated regression are used to test the hypotheses presented in this article. Results indicate that nearly all Hofstede's cultural dimensions and e-government usage are significantly related. In particular, this article indicates that the usage of e-government is higher in nations that score low in power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity.
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In the last decade the diffusion rate of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and specifically e-government, in public sector was remarkable. At the same time, the rates of e-government usage vary significantly across nations (UN, 2014). The existing e-government research has investigated many factors that affect e-government usage (e.g. Bertot, Jaeger, & Grimes, 2010; Weerakkody, El-Haddadeh, Al-Sobhi, Shareef, & Dwivedi, 2013). While it is true that each of these previous studies is significant in its way, it is noticed that the effect of national culture on e-government usage has yet to be thoroughly examined. The existing literature falls short when it comes to presenting a culturally-based interpretation of the differences in e-government usage rates across countries. The cultural factors are rooted in normative behavior of a society. Individuals generally act in a way that is aligned to the standards of behavior in a society (Deci & Ryan, 2000). This study, and apart from the generally considered economic and individual factors, investigates the effect of national cultural factors on the usage of e-governments in 49 countries.

E-government is a cost-effective and convenient means (Kumar, Mukerji, Butt, & Persaud 2007; Turban, King, Lee, Liang, & Turban, 2015) that helps public organizations to store, process, transmit and report essential information easily and in a short time. It has been argued that ICTs in governments would improve service delivery (Ngafeeson & Merhi, 2013; Zhao, Collier, & Deng, 2014), efficiency and effectiveness (Choudrie, Grey, & Nicholas, 2010; Merhi & Koong, 2016; Nath & Standing, 2010), interactivity (Leidner, 2010), decentralization, transparency (Merhi & Koong, 2013) and reduce corruption (Shim & Eom, 2008). Thus, it enables agencies and organizations to lower their operating costs, provide faster service to clients, and eliminate redundant IT development across departments and agencies (Goings, Young, & Hendry, 2003). Consequently, e-government became a necessity and not a choice for any country wishing to enter the twenty-first century as a competitive nation (Yang, Harris, & Whitfield, 2009).

Although it is true that e-government has many advantages that help both governments and citizens achieve efficiency and satisfaction, it is not clear whether citizens will use such services or not (Levy, Bagby, & Trauth, 2013). Evidence shows that the usage rates of e-government in governments differ significantly across countries with similar economic situations (UN, 2014). One possible explanation for this is, may be the meaning attributed to technologies differs among people depending on their socio-cultural attitudes (Erumban & de Jong, 2006; Steers, Meyer, & Sanchez-Runde, 2008). Hofstede (1984, 2001) has shown that differences in values and attitudes influence the way people interact and make use of their environment. Thus, within a specific society, these socio-cultural values might manipulate the perception of the citizens in a certain way that influence the usage decisions. In fact, different cultures react differently to new products and technological innovations (Gong, Li, & Stump, 2007) which made cultural differences to become an important issue in the evaluation of technologies (Al-Gahtani, Hubona, & Wang, 2007).

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