Global Trends in Digital Governance: A Longitudinal Study

Global Trends in Digital Governance: A Longitudinal Study

Aroon Manoharan (Kent State University, USA), Marc Fudge (California State University-San Bernardino, USA ) and Marc Holzer (Rutgers University-Newark, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2791-8.ch011


This paper highlights the research findings of a digital governance survey conducted in the fall of 2009. The study replicates previous surveys of large municipalities worldwide in 2007, 2005, and 2003. This longitudinal assessment, focused on the assessment of current practices in municipal e-governance by evaluating their official websites. Specifically, the survey analyzed security, usability, content, the type of online services currently being offered, citizen response, and participation through websites established by city governments worldwide. There were significant changes in the top ranking cities when compared to previous studies. Based on the 2009 evaluation of 87 cities, Seoul, Prague, Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore represent the highest performing cities in digital governance. Moreover, there continues to be a divide in terms of digital governance throughout the world; however, this divide, which increased in 2005, decreased in 2009.
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Literature Review

E-government is the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) within government, to optimize its internal and external functions (UNDESA, 2003). E-government also refers to “the delivery of services and information, electronically, to businesses and residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week” (Norris et al., 2001, p. 5). The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines e-government as “the use of information and communication technologies (ICT’s), and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government” (OECD, 2003, p. 22). Bannister (2007) provides a working definition of e-government that includes the use of ICT in the formulation and execution of government and public policy. The use of information technology also expands the possibilities for achieving direct democracy by focusing on transparency and openness. E-governance includes both e-government (delivery of public service) and e-democracy (citizen participation in governance) (Holzer & Kim, 2007). In the development of e-democracy, information disclosures and two-way communication are prerequisites for establishing an informed citizenry and sustaining a high quality of political debate.

According to Barber (2001), ICT tools are more suitable for political communication than the broadcast media and should be exploited to offer electronic delivery of public services, develop communities online and open up numerous possibilities for participation. Lau (2007) states that “good governance” includes modernization and transformation of the public sector, ensuring equity, increasing responsiveness, accountability and participation. When governments fully embrace all the benefits that technology has to offer to public administrators and citizens alike, then improved government performance will follow.

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