E-Government

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EGovernment Information Quarterly 24 (2007) 646 – 665

E-government research: Reviewing the literature, limitations, and ways forward Mete Yildiz ⁎
Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Hacettepe University, Turkey Available online 23 March 2007

Abstract This article claims to be both a review and an agenda-setting piece. It is argued that e-government research suffers from definitional vagueness of the e-government concept, oversimplification of the egovernment development processes within complex political and institutional environments, and various methodological limitations. In order to address these issues, the article reviews the limitations in the e-government literature, and it suggests ways forward. To do so, the study critically analyzes the development and various definitions of the e-government concept. After discussing the limitations of the concept, methodological and conceptual remedies such as (i) better examining and explaining the processes of – and participation patterns in – e-government projects within complex political environments, (ii) addressing the problem of under-specification in the e-government literature by the production of more grounded, empirical studies that would create new theoretical arguments and provide new concepts and categories so as to enhance our understanding of e-government policy processes and actors, and (iii) tying the subject of e-government strongly to mainstream public administration research are suggested in the final part of the analysis. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Keywords: E-government; Literature review; Public administration and management

⁎ Fax: +90 11 90 537 6605410. E-mail address: myildiz@hacettepe.edu.tr. 0740-624X/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.giq.2007.01.002

M. Yildiz / Government Information Quarterly 24 (2007) 646–665

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1. Introduction: technology use in government The objective of this article is to review the limitations in the e-government literature and provide suggestions regarding how to overcome those limitations and come up with methodological and topical suggestions in order to push the field further into innovative research. As such, it claims to be both a review and an agenda-setting article. Part of the problem that this article deals with arises from the vagueness of the e-government concept (Aldrich, Bertot, & McClure, 2002, p. 351; Hwang, Choi, & Myeong, 1999, pp. 277–278). What is also lacking in the treatment of the subject is a more in-depth analysis of the political nature of the e-government development processes, and a deeper recognition of complex political and institutional environments. However, e-government research up to date for the most part limited itself to the study of the outcomes and outputs of the e-government projects. Thus, understanding the political processes behind e-government development is vital for overcoming both definitional and analytical limitations. Such an effort requires a historical understanding of the relationship between technology and administration. The rest of this introductory section presents a brief review. Later sections present various definitions of egovernment, the limitations of the concept, and methodological and topical suggestions for future e-government research. Early students of technology1 regarded technological issues in government as a peripheral concern rather than as a core management function. Technology was seen as a means to manage the limitations of bounded-rationality and provide the infrastructure for better decision making (Simon, 1976, p. 286). In other words, until the introduction of the Internet and widespread use of personal computers, the main objectives of technology use in government were enhancing the managerial effectiveness of public administrators while increasing government productivity. Until then, the main use of technology in government organizations was the...
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