A Holistic Approach to E-Government: Ongoing Research in Oman

A Holistic Approach to E-Government: Ongoing Research in Oman

Angela Espinosa (University of Hull, UK) and Ahmed S. Al-Maimani (University of Hull, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-860-4.ch008


This chapter presents an example of ongoing action research, which uses systemic approaches to diagnose and design a Knowledge Management strategy for the Public Sector in Oman. Based on previous research concerning contributions of holistic approaches to e-government, it describes a framework for supporting an e-government program, based on generic systemic and cybernetic principles. The primary value of this chapter lies in its account of the ongoing experimentation with innovative holistic approaches to e-government. The results contribute to the practice of e-government by supporting more effective and robust e-government programs. The suggested framework also provides a basis for future empirical studies on the relationship between e-government strategies and organisational and Knowledge Management effectiveness.
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Research Background

Research Context

The idea of e-government loosely relates to the electronic linkage, interaction and communication of a particular government with both its citizens and its trading partners using a variety of gateways, portals and networks. However, there is no clear agreement amongst people coming from the soft and hard approaches to information systems (as in Checkland, 1981) in terms of what is the real coverage and scope on an e-government strategy. Most would recognise that the challenges of designing and implementing an e-strategy constitute a domain of significant complexity where people, processes and technology work together in a highly dynamic and often creative way, usually in complex and interrelated (or “messy” as Ackoff (1981) called them) situations. These are the type of situations where systemic approaches can offer significant benefits to practitioners.

The research introduced in this paper builds on previous research experiences from both authors. Al Maimani (2000) analysed from a critical systems perspective the impact of information systems on decision-making in Oman. He found that during the study period (2000), information systems in decision-making were not properly used, and also found evidence of strong correlations between inefficiencies in information systems and decision-making. This observation has been taken into account and used as the basis for the design and implementation of a One Stop Shop (OSS) (see footnote 4) in (2004): information systems are now properly and effectively used in decision making both for commercial registration and for providing services to the investors in Oman. Espinosa’s doctoral research focused on developing an organisational cybernetic framework in the President’s Office in Colombia in the 1990s, to align strategic information systems and organisational transformations (Espinosa, 1995).

The ongoing action research project presented in this chapter aims to explain the gap between theory and practice in the design and implementation of e-services still observable in the Public Sector in Oman, and to address it by developing and testing a systemic framework for e-governance, inspired by an Organisational Cybernetics approach to strategic information systems.

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