Explaining the Underdevelopment of Rural E-Government: The Case of Romania

Explaining the Underdevelopment of Rural E-Government: The Case of Romania

Virgil Stoica (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania) and Andrei Ilas (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4090-0.ch015
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Abstract

The advent of information and communications technology led the public administration of many countries to step into a new era. During the last decade, an increasing number of researchers analysed the e-government performance of national governments, regions, and large cities. However, far less attention has been paid to villages and rural areas, probably because their e-government was not a prioritised target for national policies and, consequently, was not developing at the same pace. In fact, rural e-government is nothing but a part of e-government and should be included in e-government policies. However, from a practical point of view, rural e-government raises specific issues, especially in those society where the divide between cities and villages still clearly exists. E-government could significantly improve rural services, support economic development, and encourage citizen engagement. The goal of this research is to assess the rural e-government level in Romania by evaluating five core components: 1) security and personal data protection; 2) usability; 3) content; 4) type of services; and 5) digital democracy. The low scores obtained by the only two measurable components—usability and content—allow one to conclude that Romanian rural e-government is in its early stages. Based on some unexpected collateral conclusions, the authors offer suggestions for future researches and policy makers.
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Overview Of Rural E-Government

The rural e-government can be defined as the digital interaction between government and the citizens living in rural areas, the businesses, and other governmental agencies operating in the same area. In fact, rural e-government is nothing but a part of e-government and should be always considered as included in any definition of e-government. However, from a practical point of view, rural e-government raises specific issues, especially in those society where the divide between cities and villages is still in place.

The literature is rather scarce when it comes to rural e-government. Several reasons may be behind this situation. Firstly, the rural e-government could look as a less appealing research theme when compared to national, urban or large cities e-government. Secondly, a large majority of the global rural population lives in poor countries where even basic Internet access is problematic. Thirdly, the population of well-developed countries living in rural areas declined other the years, with the differences between rural and urban being less noticeable. And finally, there is a surprising lack of e-government official data on rural areas.

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