Administrative Leadership and the Electronic City: Challenges and Opportunities

Administrative Leadership and the Electronic City: Challenges and Opportunities

Greg Streib (Georgia State University, USA) and Ignacio Navarro (Georgia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-918-2.ch018
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Much has been written about the benefits of e-government, but far less has been written about how the e-government revolution will be staffed. Many questions remain about whether we have the capacity to develop and provide new e-government services. This chapter seeks to add to our knowledge in this area by examining three perspectives on the readiness of administrative leaders for effective development of e-government systems and strategies. The authors examine the lingering division of policy and administration, present an assessment of the technology knowledge of city managers, and finish with an examination of the leadership strategies available to administrative leaders in city government for achieving the kind of comprehensive changes that many e-government initiatives require. The authors find challenges in each of these important areas and also opportunities. The chapter concludes with recommendations for administrative leaders to break free from these different barriers to success.
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E-Government In A Local Context

E-Government Defined

E-government can be described as encompassing all things electronic (UN and ASPA, 2001), but this is not going to serve us well. Nor can we allow e-government to become synonymous with IT (information technology). As Moon (2002) noted, e-government may use IT; the IT should be viewed as a means to an end. Local governments already do use a wide range of specialized knowledge and tools to assess their financial status, to hire and fire employees, provide clean water, etc. E-government does present some unique challenges, but the local government management perspective needs to be that e-government is just one of many services. The IT and geek connection has helped to make e-government a responsibility that is easy to marginalize and leave for someone else to do. If e-government is rocket science, then only rocket scientists will have e-government. Using technology to better serve citizens is a management responsibility, and we need to approach e-government from a public management perspective (Zouridis and Thaens, 2003).

The nature of e-government was aptly described by Alfred Ho (2002) when he linked it to the “reinventing government” movement (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Key goals are better service delivery, a focus on citizen needs, and community ownership. As Ho points out, Internet technologies provide ways to achieve these goals in cost effective ways. This is not to say that E-government and reinventing government are linked seamlessly, but they do share a similar heritage and many similar goals. Both emerged during roughly the same time period and both have been driven by similar impulses to break down bureaucratic barriers and transform government.

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