Towards a Regional Ontology for E-Participation: An Ecological View

Towards a Regional Ontology for E-Participation: An Ecological View

Nixon Muganda Ochara (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5868-4.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter shows the need to enhance global understanding of how the transformational government artifact is unfolding as the concept of e-Government continues to gain greater visibility in developing countries of Africa. The interest in this chapter is not to question the global commitments to the notion of transformational government but to bring to the fore inadequacies of universal conceptualization and interpretation of e-government, evidenced through the various evolutionary models and frameworks, and argue that a focus on regional ontologies is inevitable in realizing transformational government. The authors see the quest for a regional ontology as urgent, since most African governments are currently involved in e-Government initiatives as part of a broader set of governance reforms that date back to the 1980s. Therefore, the aim of the chapter is to provide a rationale for a transformational government vision for developing nations, rooted in an ecological perspective, particularly taking into account the socio-cultural context.
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Introduction

The widely held view of the meaning of e-Government revolves around the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by the public sector with the aim of improving service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in decision making process and making governments more accountable, transparent and effective (UNESCO, 2012). E-Government initiatives are hinged on developing stakeholders’ capacities to access government information and services. Therefore from a policy perspective, the intent of various e-Government applications is to re-orient public service delivery towards e-governance. Thus in modern governments, the service orientation and e-Government are inextricably intertwined, which has been underscored by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to imply the application of ICT within public administration to optimize internal and external functions, thereby providing government, the citizen and business with a set of tools that can potentially transform interactions, service delivery, knowledge utilization, policy development and implementation and meeting good governance goals. In effect, this is a quest towards transformational government (TG), which leads us to think about e-Government maturity.

The concept of e-Government maturity is adopted from the discourses that emerge in research that present the evolutionary approaches of e-Government implementation. The e-Government evolutionary approaches regard the various stages as points of successful e-Government adoption (Layne & Lee, 2001; Chen, 2002; Moon, 2002; Davison, Wagner, & Ma, 2005; West, 2005; Andersen & Henriksen, 2006). In these evolutionary models, there is a move from e-Government deployment focusing on individual agency applications towards designing the front-end customers’ experience to the integration of back-office databases and support services on a standardized infrastructure (Hodgkinson, 2002; Singh & Das, 2007). Thus successful deployments at various levels denote some form of maturity. E-Government maturity is considered as demonstrated behaviour by a country or a government agency for realizing progress towards a certain level of e-Government as opposed to readiness whose focus is on a country’s potential(Singh et al., 2007). This chapter elevates the need to enhance global understanding of how the transformational government artifact is unfolding as the concept of e-Government continues to gain greater visibility in developing countries of Africa. The interest in this chapter is not to question the global commitments to the notion of transformational government, but to bring to the fore inadequacies of universal conceptualization and interpretation of e-government, evidenced through the various evolutionary models and frameworks, but rather to argue that a focus on regional ontologies as inevitable in realizing transformational government.

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