Exploring Civil Servant Resistance to M-Government: A story of Transition and Opportunities in Turkey

Exploring Civil Servant Resistance to M-Government: A story of Transition and Opportunities in Turkey

Ronan de Kervenoael (Sabanci University, Turkey & Aston University, UK), Mark Palmer (Aston University, UK) and N. Meltem Cakici (Gediz University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-818-6.ch010
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The concept of mobility, related to technology in particular, has evolved dramatically over the last two decades including: (i) hardware ranging from walkmans to Ipods, laptops to netbooks, PDAs to 3G mobile phone; (ii) software supporting multiple audio and video formats driven by ubiquitous mobile wireless access, WiMax, automations such as radio frequency ID tracking and location aware services. Against the background of increasing budget deficit, along with the imperative for efficiency gains, leveraging ICT and mobility promises for work related tasks, in a public administration context, in emerging markets, point to multiple possible paths. M-government transition involve both technological changes and adoption to deliver government services differently (e.g. 24/7, error free, anywhere to the same standards) but also the design of digital strategies including possibly competing m-government models, the re-shaping of cultural practices, the creation of m-policies and legislations, the structuring of m-services architecture, and progress regarding m-governance. While many emerging countries are already offering e-government services and are gearing-up for further m-government activities, little is actually known about the resistance that is encountered, as a reflection of civil servants’ current standing, before any further macro-strategies are deployed. Drawing on the resistance and mobility literature, this chapter investigates how civil servants’ behaviors, in an emerging country technological environment, through their everyday practice, react and resist the influence of m-government transition. The findings points to four main type of resistance namely: i) functional resistance; ii) ideological resistance; iii) market driven resistance and iv) geographical resistance. Policy implication are discussed in the specific context of emerging markets.
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Resistance across history has remained a powerful symbol of human territoriality. In turn, territoriality is often described as the primary expression of social power (Sack, 1986). In the context of this chapter, resistance is associated with the possibility of territorial changes, power shifts and responsibility evolutions occurring. Territoriality traditionally involves some form of classification or assigning tasks to a category affecting ongoing relationships between territorial units. Territoriality displaces attention within relationships as a mean to exteriorize power and creates de-facto boundaries among territorial divisions. Examples include expression such “ours” and not “yours” and “it is the local regulation”, “you may not do this there” (Sack, 1986). In particular, at individual civil servant level, the scope of knowledge is often graded according to different territorial spaces leading to a scale regarding the endowment of responsibilities. The span of control of any individual is then devised to an extensive level of details.

One of the most recent and significant shifts in territoriality to occur has been the advance in Information Communication Technology (ICT thereafter) and the creation of digital and virtual spaces (Castells, 2001). At the same time, the concept of mobility has evolved dramatically over the last two decades and transformed many aspects of business management and day-to-day activities (Ling, 2008). Accordingly, recent studies have begun to address the role of resistance in the particular context of mobile technology (Venkatesh et al., 2003; Lapointe & Rivard, 2003). While many studies have used a positivist, deterministic framework, one further recurrent theme, in social sciences, has been the difference between mobility being driven by personal motivation and mobility driven by societal and ideological factors (Avgerou et al., 2004; Goggin, 2008; Ling, 2008). Significantly, several studies have analyzed ICT and mobility in the context of m-government primarily from an end user perspective (Kushchu, 2007). However, leveraging ICT and mobility promises within public administration in emerging market point also to multiple other factors such as civil servant resistances, organizational culture clashes and capacity absorption issues (Sheng & Trimi, 2008; Oxford Internet Institute, 2006; Vincent & Harris, 2008). M-services, in public administration, are linked to actions and functions involving services such as instant up to date information release, error free data collection, mobile transaction (e,g. taxes, benefits), crime prevention (e.g. use of video/photographic elements of mobile phones) and the way digital technologies are used within the socio-political context to allow more transparency, the inclusion of minorities, and the civil society at large (Welsh & Wong, 2001; Hallin & Lundevall, 2007; Yu and Kushchu, 2004; Kushchu et al., 2007).

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