Using Duality Theory to Reframe E-Government Challenges

Using Duality Theory to Reframe E-Government Challenges

Kathleen S. Hartzel (Duquesne University, USA) and Virginia W. Gerde (Furman University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9905-2.ch003
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The design of information and communication systems for e-government is burdened with a host of conflicting objectives. For example, systems should be standardized and stable, but at the same time they should also be flexible and responsive to the needs of various stakeholder groups. When systems are designed properly, ICT (information and communication technologies) features can help resolve some of the tensions created by conflicting objectives. This chapter uses duality theory as a basis for a new framework that demonstrates how many of the tensions found at various stages of e-government (development, implementation, and adoption) can be reframed as dualities. When e-government systems are designed for duality, ICT mitigates many of the barriers and obstacles and increases the system's effectiveness and acceptance by the citizenry.
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ICT, which have the capability to store and process data as well as to connect people and organizations, have revolutionized the way businesses are managed, people cooperate, and governments interact with the citizenry. This is particularly true when technology is used to secure the country, but the same effort may erode citizen privacy through surveillance activities. As technological capabilities change, both adoption and implementation of e-government services also bring their own set of unique changes to the relationship between the government and its citizenry. E-government can ‘cut out the middle man’ by delivering a standardized process more directly to citizens, but it can also be depersonalizing (or de-individuating) and lack flexibility. Standardization leads to increased efficiency but less capacity for flexible action.

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