E-Government and Opportunities for Participation: The Case of the Mexican State Web Portals

E-Government and Opportunities for Participation: The Case of the Mexican State Web Portals

J. Ramon Gil-Garcia (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico) and Fernando González Miranda (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-933-0.ch004


Electronic government has been considered a powerful strategy for administrative reform. Identified benefits from e-government are numerous and range from efficiency and effectiveness to transparency and democratic participation. However, only a few studies focus on the potential of information technologies (IT) to promote citizen participation in government affairs. This participation could be conceptualized in many different ways, from the possibility of submitting a request or question to actively participating in decision-making and voting online. In some developing countries, opportunities for citizen participation are still very limited and information technologies have the potential to expand these communication channels. Based on an analysis of the 32 state portals in Mexico, this chapter proposes an index of citizen participation opportunities, ranks the portals according to this index, and explores some of the determinants of the availability of these participation opportunities through the case of the Mexican state of Michoacán. We argue that assessing the different channels for citizen participation available through e-government Web sites is an important first step for understanding the relationships between government and citizens. Citizen initiated contacts and participation cannot exist if communication channels are limited or nonexistent.
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2. Electronic Government And E-Democracy

Theoretically and practically, electronic government and electronic democracy are interrelated phenomena. Both are related to the use of information and communication technologies, but have important differences (Alvarez & Hall, 2004; Amoretti, 2007; Birch and Watt, 2004; Grönlund, 2004; Macintosh et al, 2005a; Margain, 2001). Recent academic literature suggests several approaches that are useful in gaining a better understanding of these two concepts and identifying their differences and similarities, as well as their interrelations.

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