[Re]Configuring Websites for National Development

[Re]Configuring Websites for National Development

Pearson A. Broome (Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work, the University of West Indies, Cave-Hill Campus, Bridgetown, Barbados)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2016070103
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Abstract

This paper argues that although there are benefits to be derived from the use of website technologies, despite their public pronouncements, actors from governments and the private sector have been equally guilty of not recognizing their importance. Some development actors seemingly see their global presence on the World Wide Web as simply having a page on Facebook. Perhaps because websites are intangible assets their importance as strategic tools is undervalued and their design treated with lacklustre interest by government agencies and sections of the private sector. This article presents in part an overview using two in-depth case studies of how the public and private sectors in the Commonwealth Caribbean have used, or failed to use websites by illustrating inter alia their sub-optimally designed features. A major finding is that both sectors have gotten no further than the billboard or partial service-delivery status of e-government, e-commerce, and e-democracy, and have made little progress at portal development, online services, interactive websites, or using the technologies to transform commercial activity. A second finding is that these same features deny access to services for the most vulnerable sections of their populations to their detriment. An inquiry into website configuration for national development has both practical and scholarly implications. A practical implication of this study is for researchers, governments, development agencies, investors and citizens to use these standardized website evaluation indicators to pin-point and correct weaknesses if this development strategy is to be effectively applied. With respect to scholarly implications, it will provide much needed insight for theory development — since at this time there is virtually no theory underpinning the phenomenon.
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Configuring Places For Cyberspace

There are four to five general stages of website development. UNDESA (2004) identifies five stages: emerging; enhanced; interactive; transactional; and seamless (fully integrated). Silcock (2001) describes six stages, these are: information-publishing/dissemination; official two-way transaction; multi-purpose portals; portal personalization; clustering of common services; full integration and enterprise transformation. Netchaeva (2002) describes more or less five similar stages without giving them specific terms and West (2002), one of the early pioneers of such research, categorizes four main stages (see also Layne, and Lee, 2001). With minor different conceptualizations amongst them the approaches can be summarized into four broad categories from level 1 static/emerging to level 4 with sophisticated interaction as seen in this author’s customization in Table 1.

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