Learning from Failure: Braving the Multifaceted Challenges to E-Government Development

Learning from Failure: Braving the Multifaceted Challenges to E-Government Development

Fadi Salem (Dubai School of Government, UAE) and Yasar Jarrar (Dubai School of Government, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch102

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Introduction

By the turn of the century, an ever increasing interest in electronic government was building-up globally; a digital government revolution was in the making. The advocates of this revolution were cheering e-government as the panacea; a solution to all public sector predicaments. Most Arab states joined the e-excitement euphoria that swept regional governments. The promise that electronic government (hereafter e-government) initiatives will address public administration dilemmas captured the imaginations of policy makers and attracted citizens and businesses alike. Very few years later and after massive public investments, many of the promises put forward by e-government advocates to obliterate corruption, cut red-tape, reduce government costs and deliver more participatory governance systems have cooled down (Ciborra, 2003).

Debates started and the core question was ‘what went wrong?’ e-Government projects failures are not limited to Arab states. They have been documented almost in every region around the globe, see for example: (Akther et al., 2005; AP, 2004; Ciborra & Navarra, 2005; Cloete, 2004; Davenport & Horton, 2004; Eynon & Dutton, 2007; Pardo & Scholl, 2002; Salem, 2007; Titah & Barki, 2006).

There is a wide agreement that e-government projects fail in high percentages worldwide. For example, an earlier estimate by UNDESA suggested that more than 60% of e-government projects in developing countries fail (UNDESA, 2003). The World Bank estimate was even more alarming. One lead information specialist at the bank put the percentage of failed e-government projects in developing countries at 85%, from which 35% are total failures (AP, 2004). There is no solid estimate on the percentage of failed e-government projects in the Arab countries, but one could safely argue that the failure ratio had followed the same trend.

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