Factors Impacting the Adoption of e-Government Services in Developing: A Case Study of Bahrain Government
Factors Impacting the Adoption of e-Government Services in Developing: A Case Study of Bahrain Government
Chapter One: Introduction
In March 2001, 122 nations convened at the Third Global Forum on Reinventing Government. The theme of the meeting was “Fostering Development through e-Government.” The representatives of each country shared ideas, information, and best practices linked to e-government (Basu, 2004, p.111). Since then, the United Nations has focused on assessing the effectiveness of e-government adoption in its member states. The first benchmarking was conducted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in 2016, analyzing the progress each member nations have made and the approaches they have employed to ensure e-government adoption is a success. In 2016, UNDESA carried out a survey, this time to analyze the achievements that each member states had made in their adoption of e-government services (United Nations, 2016, p.108). The primary aim of the research was to promote effective adoption of e-Government to improve the lives of people and support development, particularly in developing nations.
Essentially, e-government services are meant to enable access and improve the quality of services offered by the government, support transparency, participation, and accountability, enhance coordination within government, and contribute to social equity (Basu, 2004, p.112). As a significant step towards development, countries have attempted to adopt e-government services for their citizens. The Bahrain government is no exception. They are conscious of the need to enhance the efficiency of government services using new technologies. As a method to achieve vision 2030, the Bahrain government has introduced the e-Government Agency service program formerly launched by H.E. Shaikh Muhammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa on 23rd March 2007 (Bahrain e-Government Authority, 2016). However, its full implementation has not been realized, and this is down to several factors that impact its adoption as part of the government’s strategy to deliver services to its citizens. The two significant factors are culture and trust. Therefore, with an emphasis on Bahrain government, this case study attempts to understand how culture and trust impact the adoption of e-government programs in developing countries within the structure of the UTUAT model (Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology). The study also compares Bahrain government’s approach with that of Luxemburg and Estonia to understand the concept of implementing ICT programs in developing countries for the development and improvement of citizens’ lives.
The Concept of Culture and Trust
Culture is a major barrier and driver for e-Government adoption in most countries. According to Hofstede (1993), culture is “The collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members in one human group from another” (p.88). Culture has been highlighted in most studies to be connected to the realization of the implementation of e-Government. Culture is measured using two constructs: Performance Expectancy (PE) and Social Influence. Performance expectancy relates to the perception of participants regarding how technology will improve their lives. It measured based on Bahrain citizens’ perception about the use of e-Government services with regard to it benefits such as effort, time, and money, how it facilitates their communication with government agencies, how it improves the quality of services rendered by the government, and how it provides people with equal opportunities to conduct their businesses with government agencies. Social influence, on the other hand, is the degree or the level of in which people perceive the importance of the new program and why they should accept it. Thus, the two concepts measure acceptance of e-Government services using the perception of the participants. The perceptions are influenced by people’s cultural differences. For instance, Alshehri and Drew (2010, p.1057) found that social barrier, particularly cultural differences, significantly influence the intention of citizens concerning the acceptance and adoption of e-Government services. In essence, culture defines people’s perspective and way of life. To understand why people accept or decline to adopt e-Government services, it is essential to examine their cultural drivers.
Trust defines the relationship between the government and its citizens. According to Lean, Zailani, Ramayah, and Fernando (2009, p.463), the success of e-Government service adoption is determined by whether the trust is developed in users. If they believe that the electronic source of information is ethical, trustworthy, legal, and able to safeguard their confidentiality, trust is likely to be developed between the government and citizens. Hazeem (2010) also states that the government should be able to impact citizens emotionally to incline them to use e-Government services. In other words, the acceptance or decline by the citizens to adopt e-Government services is reliant on how they feel about the service, which is influenced by the trust developed between them and the government. Trust is measured using two constructs, in this research: Effort Expectancy (EE) and Facilitation Conditions. Effort expectancy measures the degree of ease about the use of e-Government services. It identifies three key constructs including ease of use, complexity, and perceived ease of usage. EE will be measured based on the Bahrain citizens’ perceptions of the program’s “ease to use” and how easy it is to learn how to use it. Facilitation conditions, on the other hand, entail the degree to which citizens believe the new inventions or services are implemented to support them and improve their lives. In the current research, the construct is measured based on individuals’ perception about their ability to use e-Government services. It also measures people perception of how the technology influences and fits their lifestyles. Therefore, analyzing trust as a component is essential when trying to understand people’s behaviour towards the implementation of e-Government services.
Many governments all over the world are now using technology to improve their services. The main aim is to make it possible to have access to government services and information. Traditionally, the public would go to government agencies to request services or follow-up with another service. With technology changing society today, it has become essential for nations to implement strategies that will help them compete in the global market while improving the well-being of the citizens. Ideally, the difference between developed and developing countries is the manner in which they embrace new technological advancements. For example, nations such as the UK and the U.S. have been known to use ICT to influence their businesses and citizens. UNDESA has been vigilant in making sure developing countries adopt these styles of governance- surveying how UN member countries adopt e-government services is an excellent example of their commitment to improving government services and closing the gap that exists between developed and developing nations regarding development and service delivery (Meftah, Gharleghi & Samadi, 2015, p.144). Hence, e-government has offered a platform for governments to transform their countries.
However, Bahrain government is faced with the challenge of low-level of adoption of e-government services by citizens because of the cultural differences and lack of trust in government agencies (Meftah, Gharleghi & Samadi, 2015, p.141). Its success relies heavily on the cooperation and commitment of citizens to adopt the innovation. Unfortunately, Bahrain, together with other developing nations, still prefer to use conventional means to communicate with the government (Meftah, Gharleghi & Samadi, 2015, p.142). For instance, most members of the public in these countries prefer in-person visit and phone calls to the utilization of the internet to communicate with agencies from the government. The low adoption shows rejection and economical utilization of initiatives leading to government failure. This unresponsiveness on the public’s part is down to the unawareness of the benefits of using e-government services. The first step in ensuring awareness among citizens is by understanding the factors impacting the adoption of e-government services in Bahrain by questioning the members of the public and government agencies. Their insight will be valuable in analyzing why the implementation of the strategy has been unsuccessful, the cultural issues involved with the unresponsiveness of the public, trust between the government and citizens, and what is required to motivate the public to use e-government services to communicate and hold the government accountable. A comparison with Estonia and Luxemburg’s approach also helps in establishing a balance in its implementation.
ICT has transformed the development technology in Bahrain. It affects virtually all agencies of government. E-government- in particular, has established an effective strategy for improving and increasing efficiency and productivity within the government by enabling citizen’s centric services. However, the low-level adoption of the innovation by the public resulting from a lack of trust in different agencies government and Bahrainians cultural perspective has stifled its success in Bahrain. The research tries to understand how two significant factors impact its approval in a bid to explain the low-level implementation. Therefore, the findings of this research will benefit government organizations and citizens of Bahrain, as well as researchers. Firstly, government organizations could apply the conclusions drawn from the analysis of this case study to increase the acceptance of e-government services and reduce expenses and costs that goes in creating awareness. Also, they could use the findings to develop their performance and encourage citizens to accept and adopt e-government services through decision-making and motivational ways to help the public to implement the strategy. Secondly, the responses of the public may reveal the reasons why people fear using e-government services and the misconceptions surrounding its implementation. The responses from government agencies may be used to create awareness among members of the public, increase transparency and trust between the public and government organizations. Lastly, the concept and findings of this case study may lay the foundation for further research on the field. It may give other researchers ideas on what to focus on and why the area is significant for study.
Research Aims and Objectives
The primary aim of this case study is to comprehend how culture and trust impact the e-government services adoption in developing nations within the framework of the UTUAT model. The study also compares Bahrain government’s approach with that of Luxemburg and Estonia (two countries where the adoption of e-Government has been successful) to understand the concept of implementing ICT programs in developing countries for the development and improvement of citizens’ lives. To realize this aim, the study will pursue the following objectives:
To identify why culture and trust between government and the public prevent citizens from implementing e-government services.
To explore the perceptions of government agencies on why the government has failed to motivate citizens to adopt the use of e-government services.
To explore the perceptions of the citizens on why there is the low-level adoption of e-government.
To compare Bahrain government’s achievement in using e-government services with Luxemburg and Estonia government’s achievement to understand factors that impact the of e-government services adoption in developing countries.
This is a qualitative study, aiming to comprehend the factors influencing the behaviors of Bahrain citizens toward e-government services. It explores the subject from the perspective of the public and government organizations. With a focus on culture and trust between the public and government, the study aims to provide information to help in the effective acceptance process and acceptance of the innovation in Bahrain. The UTAUT model is developed to achieve this aim. As a result, the following questions will be used to explore the government organizations and citizens’ perspectives on the low-level use of e-government services in a bid to motivate the public to adopt it:
How can factors that impact the implementation of the e-government services use in Bahrain public sector be capture effectively by using the UTAUT model?
How does Bahrain culture impact the acceptance and adoption of the e-government services use?
How does trust between government organizations and the public impact on the acceptance and adoption of the e-government services use?
How do UTAUT moderators such as experiences of using the internet, gender, and age influence the public’s perception of the use and effectiveness of e-government services in Bahrain?
How is the e-government services adoption in Bahrain facilitated or hindered by the perceptions of government organizations and Bahrain citizens?
What can be done to improve or motivate Bahrain citizens to implement the e-government services use in communicating with their government?
How does Bahrain approach compare to Estonia and Luxemburg’s approach of using e-government services?
Which government, between Bahrain and Luxemburg and Estonia, has effectively achieved the purpose of using e-government?
The Scope of the Study
The study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one introduces the subject by discussing background information. It also discusses the implication of the case study, the significance of the issue being studied in its research problem section, the research aims and objectives, and the questions the study intends to answer. Chapter two of the study reviews previous studies that have been conducted to investigate the subject. It focuses on the main principles related to e-government such as its definition, benefits, types, and challenges. Chapter three discusses the research methodology. The chapter focuses on the methods utilized to conduct the research. Because it explores the perspectives of both the public and government organizations, questionnaires and interviews are the preferred methods to answer the research questions. Chapter four analyzes the data obtained from the methods mentioned in chapter three. The analysis involves discussions of the findings and recommendation of the best practices to improve or increase the adoption of e-government service usage. UTAUT model will be considered during this process with Culture (CT), and Trust (TR) included as independent constructs. Lastly, chapter five concludes the study by summarizing the findings and comparing them with the findings of other studies. It also recommends other bases for future research and why how the study findings will improve productivity and efficiency within Bahrain government.
Chapter Two: Literature Review
In the previous chapter, the background of the use of e-Government in the Kingdom of Bahrain was covered. In this chapter, previous studies are reviewed using a critical approach for the Middle East and developing countries, as Bahrain is part of both. The section discusses the details related to e-Government adoption in Bahrain and other developing countries. Ideally, the advancements of information technology have critically affected the success of service delivery in government agencies. E-Government services have been designed by governments to improve service provisions, accountability, and efficiency. This chapter focuses on the definition of e-Government services and progress in both developed and developing countries, the characteristics that distinguish e-Government services from other services produced by the government, how developed countries have adopted the program and how they have managed to achieve success in their adoption, a discussion of the concepts of culture and trust. Also, the chapter clarifies the need to adopt e-Government services in developing countries and why it is essential to adopt the program in these countries based on the cultural dimensions of society. It also clarifies how trust construct is defined and developed by other studies.
The chapter comprises of:
Definition and emergence of e-Government services
Adoption of e-Government services
The concept of culture in the context of e-Government service adoption
The idea of trust in the context of e-Government service adoption
E-Government in developing countries
The Importance of adopting e-Government services in developing countries
Definition and Emergence of e-Government Services
E-Government entails the use of ICTs by government agencies to improve the delivery of services to its citizens (Furuholt & Matotay, 2010, p.133). It mainly covers businesses, government, citizens, technology, and economic viewpoint. The basic principle of this program is that individuals within a country can communicate with their government and access their government services through the set communication channels in the internet and other information technology devices developed by government agencies to relay information to the public (Sharma et al., 2012, p.81). The idea of e-Government was born and established in the age of the internet. It has continued to develop and has reached advanced stages where the government relies on its effectiveness to enhance the service delivery to the citizens. With the advent of this program, government agencies worldwide have realized the essence of making their services more effective, efficient, and accessible to ordinary people. For instance, the interaction between the government and citizens has completely been revolutionized by its development (Affisco &Soliman, 2006, p.17). As a result, citizens in developed countries have become more Internet-adept and begin to have expectations that the government will provide the same standards of services delivered by the private sectors. Therefore, different studies have highlighted how and why the government plans to emulate the private sectors by offering more transparent, accessible, and efficient public services to businesses and citizens (Al Shafi, 2008, p.29).
In describing the concept of e-Government, different researchers interprets it based on technology (using ICT to deliver government services electronically), process (procedures used to transform and transact e-Government services), benefits (what the public achieves by adopting the program), citizen focus (the desires of the citizens to obtain quality and effective services from their government), single point access (the avenue used by the government to deliver services through e-Government programs), and phenomenon (using e-Government as an alternative way used by the government to provide its services to the people). According to Choudrie and Weerrakody (2007, p.33), e-Government programs comprise a broad spectrum of activities offered using ICT. These activities include, but not limited to the management, capture, dissemination, sharing, and use of seamless information. When the government uses e-Government programs, they aim to enhance the quality of government services offered to the public by increasing efficiency, accountability, transparency, and effectiveness of government services. Akman et al., (2005, p.244) also support this notion by contending that e-Government services are the most effective way to improve communication and interaction between the citizens and government. It has played a vital role in the transformation of service delivery by the government from a bureaucratic perspective to personal needs-based approach. Hence, it appears that the government around the world is trying to make fundamental changes to the way its agencies use ICT to interact or achieve maximum communication between the government and citizens. It has provided a convenient and efficient method for business and citizens to communicate with government agencies.
Ideally, the Bahrain government has tried to adopt the use of e-Government services fully. Today, it is an essential aspect of the process of service delivery and is aimed at improving the way the government provides services to its residents, citizens, businesses, visitors, and government entities. According to eGovernment Portal of 2016, the users of the e-Government services in Bahrain have expressed satisfaction with its effectiveness (Bahrain.bn, 2016). According to their testimony, services delivered electronically have increased, and more than 80% of the citizens and businesses have shown how they are satisfied with the quality of services provided by the government since the adoption of e-Government services. However, despite the positive review of the program, its approval has not been implemented as expected by the government. Many people are still reluctant to implement the service. In an attempt to lure people to adopt the service, the Bahrain government has pledged to have a positive influence on three key stakeholders in the country. The stakeholders include the government, individuals, and businesses. Individuals include citizens, visitors, and residents, businesses include large, medium and small business enterprises together with their employees, and the government consists of government agencies and their employees. Hence, studies demonstrate that the adoption of e-Government by the Bahrain government may impact service delivery positively and how the three stakeholders receive services from the government.
Adoption of e-Government Services
The government of Bahrain has a responsibility to provide quality and efficient services to its citizens. They offer different classes of services such as education, health, tendering, employment system, and taxation. However, these services vary based on the needs and preferences of the users. According to Ray et al. (2011, p.117), the main aim of providing e-Government services is to offer quality services to business, employees, citizens, and other government agencies. The study shows that the implementation of e-Government services in Bahrain may improve efficiency and effective coordination amongst the three stakeholders as well as project teams by developing an efficient monitoring system. Essentially, the acceptance of e-Government services has become an essential study area for many researchers. It has, however, among the most challenging study areas. Many studies have been carried out to understand the trend of its acceptance by citizens, and each study provides different findings and results. Nonetheless, despite the difference in conclusions and results, most of the studies agree that there is a low demand for e-Government services and this is the main reason many studies have been carried out to understand why the trend exists in developing nations.
Basu (2004) carried out an analysis of the acceptance of e-Government services among citizens using the UTAUT. The theory they used had four determinants or predictors of usage intention including effort expectancy, performance expectancy, facilitation conditions, as well as social influence. The findings and conclusions were split into two categories: significant and non-significant factors. For non-significant coefficients, the focus was on the social impact and its effect on the behavioral intention for e-Government services usage. The significant factors were, however, the four determinants including, performance expectations, effort expectancy, internet experience, and facilitation conditions. Another factor that formed the foundation of the research was whether age or gender had an impact on the behavior of citizens towards the adoption of e-Government services. In their findings, the two factors did not influence people’s behavior towards the approval and acceptance of e-Government services.
Alhujran (2009, p.81) also applied another theory to investigate the level and acceptance of e-Government services. The approach used was the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). The author used case studies and surveyed to establish the findings and was based on the external and internal variables of the TAM. The internal variables comprised of perceived ease in its usage, attitude, usefulness, and intention by the citizens to use the system. On the other hand, external variables were trustworthiness, national culture, and perceived national value. In their findings, trustworthiness, trust, and citizens’ awareness of the significance of the e-Government services influenced their acceptance and implementation of the service. If people are aware of the quality of the services provided by the program as well as its perceived usefulness and benefits, there is likely to occur high level of acceptance amongst different stakeholders. The survey also stated that the internal variables such as perceived usefulness and its easy usage positively impact the attitude of citizens towards acceptance of e-Government services. However, public value is the factor with the highest impact on the citizens’ thoughts towards the acceptance of e-Government services. Similarly, Jamali, Samadi, and Marthandan (2014, p.171) also agree with these findings. In their study, they also found that the perceived public value has a significant influence on the attitude of citizens and other stakeholders towards the adoption and implementation of e-Government services.
Lastly, Akkay et al. (2013, p.1535) conducted a more careful study to investigate the adoption of e-Government services by German citizens. In their findings, issues of privacy, data protection, and security are the main factors that influence people’s attitude towards the adoption of e-Government services. For people to trust and rely on the system, the government must demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures to protect individual data and guarantee the security of their data. This consequently improves the citizens’ level of reliability and completeness of information. The lowest factors that are considered to have an influence on e-Government implementation are the convenience of the services, the variety of services, and status information. The researchers, thus, noticed that the trust in government among citizens is fundamental in influencing them to adopt or implement the service. The government must find a way to motivate citizens by explaining to them the importance of adopting the service.
The concept of culture in the context of e-Government service adoption
There is no precise definition of culture in the context of government delivery of services mainly due to the complications associated with defining it. According to Hofstede (1993), culture can be characterized as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members in one human group to another” (p.85). Different studies have highlighted the prominence of culture and how it is connected to the realization of the recognition of e-Government. Alshehri and Drew (2010, p.1053-1059) carried out a study to investigate the challenges faced by the people of Saudi Arabia regarding the acceptance of e-Government services. In their findings, they stated that social barriers are significant challenges. They influence the intention of the citizens to adopt and accept e-Government services. Moreover, cultural differences between citizens of Saudi Arabia were the main social barrier to the adoption and acceptance of the program. Mainly, cultural challenges include language barrier, lack of education, religion, features, experiences, background, and different expectations towards e-Government services. In other words, Alshehri and Drew believe that the main barrier to the acceptance and adoption of the program is cultural compatibility. In most governments, it is hard to resolute culture because of the complexities associated with it. For instance, when e-Government service involves the collaboration between the government and citizens, resolving cultural issues is vital to address their social attitude towards the program.
Al-Sowayegh (2012, p.101) also conducted a qualitative study to investigate the cultural drivers and barriers to the acceptance of e-Government services among Saudi Arabian citizens from the perspective of the government employees. After the author interviewed the participants, he found that different cultural drivers influence the attitude of citizens towards the acceptance of e-Government services. These drivers include collectivism, nepotism, generation gaps, loyalty, and grouping affects the perspective of the user towards the acceptance of e-Government services. Moreover, the author found that two cultural dimensions directly affect the adoption of the program by employees. They are socio-structural practices and cultural values. It is hard to change cultural values because they are rooted and embedded in society. They include national backgrounds such as their beliefs and history and the national culture which is also referred to as cultural infrastructure. Based on his assessment, Al-Sowayegh (2012) states that “The socio-structural practices are elements in the culture that are always changing and are not as embedded in the cultural fabric as the cultural values” (p.137). He found these elements to be technological, political, organizational, resource-based, educational, and legislative factors. Therefore, this study found that cultural difference poses a significant challenge to the adoption and acceptance of e-Government service program in developing nations.
Further, Nadi (2012, p.1401) conducted a study on the influence of culture on the acceptance of e-Government services in Saudi Arabia. The author found that several factors influence the approval of the program positively. They include conservation values, perspective on communication, trust, compatibility, and result demonstrability. The exercise of power by the government and the lack of trust in these agencies has adverse effects on the way people adopt and accept to use e-Government services. In another study by Hofstede (1993), five dimensions of cultural variations were identified. They include uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity versus femininity, collectivism versus individualism, and short-term versus long-term orientation. According to his findings, employees with cultures scoring power distance tend to be diligent and obedient to their supervisors. They will complete tasks assigned to them by their supervisors even if they do not agree with them or have confidence in the task they are asked to finish- this is because they believe that there is an unequal distribution of power and those in authority should be obeyed and respected. In most cases, employees of citizens with this kind of cultural practice or attitude will implement or adopt e-Government services without questioning its effectiveness and efficiency. Also, the study found that people living in countries with low uncertainty avoidance are more likely to take risks and make decisions based on their assessments. These people are, therefore, more likely to implement the program because of their intention and attitude to take risks.
Lastly, Aldraehim et al. (2012, p.655-662) also showed the impact of culture on the use of e-Services in developing countries. In Saudi Arabia, nepotism has a significant impact on society. The study focused on this aspect of culture. They identified it as “the employment of relatives, whether in the same organization or even working or being supervised by their relatives in the same department” (p.656). To clarify their findings, the author defined some cause of nepotism which included educational, economic, sociocultural, and political structures. In the survey results, the authors found that nepotism negatively influences people’s intentions of adopting e-Services. The relationship between intention to use and nepotism is weak. In other words, nepotism is a culture that is practiced in most developing countries. It defines the way governments conduct their businesses. Based on the study by Aldraehim et al. (2012), countries that practice nepotism are less likely to see a high level of implementation of e-Services because people have less intention to use the services. Therefore, people’s attitude towards services provided by the government is significantly affected by the different cultural practices including nepotism.
The concept of trust in the context of e-Government service adoption
The relationship between the government and its citizens determines or impacts acceptance and adoption of e-Services. In a study conducted by Nogoev et al. (2011, p.119), recognition is influenced by the level of trust developed in users. For instance, when citizens believe that the mediums used to relay e-Service information are legal, trustworthy and ethical, they are likely to develop trust in government agencies. According to Nogoev et al. (2011, p.121), faith is defined as the respect shown by employees or residence towards the government’s ability, security, trustworthiness, and reliability. It involves the main factors that appeal to the emotions of citizens. In other words, for citizens to adopt e-Services, the government must ensure they create an emotional connection with their citizens. They must demonstrate a high level of trustworthiness, reliability and the security and protection of their data. Nogoev et al. (2011, p.120) state that most government agencies face significant problems when the citizens do not have trust or confidence in their services. In this regard, most studies have focused on the impact of faith on their acceptance of e-Services.
Brown and Thompsom (2011, p.330), in their study, also emphasizes the importance of trust in the government and the internet about the adoption or acceptance of e-Government services. The portrayal of trust towards government authorities by citizens determines the success of its approval. In this research, the authors found that trust by the public in the government websites translates to the trust in the government authorities. In essence, for citizens to trust the websites or other mediums used as platforms for e-Government program, the government must ensure that they build a relationship of trust by assuring them of security of their data, the efficiency of the services and how it intends to enhance the quality of services provided. In essence, the authors believe that citizens’ trust in government agencies should act as direct motivating factors in government Websites. The demonstration of trust by citizens towards the capabilities of the government and security of the internet can indicate the level of trust they have towards the government.
In another study, Lopez-Sisniega (2009, p.37) argued that conveying a true image requires the e-Government websites to be professionally designed. The design should be able to appeal to the public, reliable and have a high level of security and availability. It is the responsibility of the government authorities to ensure they design websites that are trusted by the public and ensure their data is secure. To increase the trust of the public, they should come up with regulations and policies that protect the handling of personal data, audit processes and ensure the regulations are implemented. They should also include sanctions for those who violate these regulations and ensure everyone is educated on the way to use their data and what they need to do in case a person invades their privacy. This initiative will help in building a relationship of trust between the government and citizens by demonstrating a high level of transparency and management of e-Service transactions.
Lastly, Alhujran (2009, p.79) also conducted several interviews to investigate factors that influence the building of trust between the government and citizens. He got numerous responses from his participants. Most of the participants agreed that the government needs to increase the trust between them and citizens to influence successful implementation of e-Services (Alhujran, 2009, p.80). They also listed many things the government needs to do to achieve the level of trust they need to implement e-Services. According to the participants, implementing privacy and security issues on the websites as well as improving the reliability on the part of the government, drafting and ensuring relevant laws and regulation are implemented and enforced increases the trust in government. Similarly, a study by Zahir and Gharleghi (2015, p.81) found that governments that implement laws to improve the level of security and privacy increase transparency in their governance, which in turn increase the level of trust amongst citizens. In other words, trust and security are the significant determinants acceptance and adoption of internet services. Because a large number of people uses the internet, the government should increase the level of trust among citizens by guaranteeing the security of their data and ensuring sanctions are put in place to deter potential cybercrimes that have become one of the significant security threats in the world. Therefore, trust is a fundamental principle required to motivate citizens to accept or adopt e-Government services.
E-Government in Developing Countries
There is a difference in how developed and developing countries use e-Government services. The reality of using e-Government is that it has been designed over a long period in developing countries that its implementation should be guaranteed. According to United Nations (2014), since e-Government services/program was launched in the year 2000, by now it must have enough capability and experience to meet the requirements as it is in developed countries. Many developing countries recognize the potential importance of e-Government services. However, most of them still struggle with its implementation. According to Schuppan (2009, p.121), the lack of proper implementation may be attributed to the vast technological gap that exists between developed and developing countries. The author states that the distinction between developing and developed nations about the acceptance of e-Government programs is that it is used to increase the development rate and improve democracy in society, while in developing nations, the program is used as part of the government’s move to enhance development within their society. In short, the gap, in both ideology and technology, between the two countries highlights the reasons why there is the low rate of acceptance of e-Government programs in developing nations.
In a study conducted by Aldraehim, et al. (2012, p.660), the projection of the full implementation of e-Government services in developing countries requires an extended period to reach the level of developed countries. This is mainly because of the lack of consciousness among citizens. The governments have not done enough to market the program and make people understand its benefits to society. As a result, people have become skeptical about its implementation because they do not know how it is used and the potential benefits it may bring to them. In Bahrain, a study by Omer (2016, p.77) shows that the low acceptance rate among citizens is mainly due to their culture and lack of trust between the government and citizens. Culturally, the lack of education among citizens has contributed to the lack of adoption or acceptance of e-Government services. Also, the lack of trust in the governments’ functions has led to people fearing to implement the program. To most people, the problems associated with the internet have made it hard for people to trust the websites developed by the government agencies. They prefer traditional forms of communicating with the government because of the fear of privacy invasion and loss of personal data. In other words, the government is at fault for failing to gain the trust of the public. They understand why people refuse to implement e-Government services and should take measures to ensure that they gain the confidence and trust of the people. One of the ways to achieve this is by enacting laws and regulations that protect the personal data of citizens and impose sanctions on people who violate these laws. If they guarantee the public that they will protect their private data, they will build trust thus increasing the level of acceptance amongst citizens.
Lastly, in Bahrain, Al-Shafi (2009, p.99) found that the implementation of e-government services did not meet the expectations of the international standards. However, it is worth noting that the implementation of the program in some of the developing nations is being handled. While assessing how the Bahrain government has dealt with the application of e-Government services, Al-Shafi (2009, p.101) compared the adoption gap between Qatar and Bahrain. Accordingly, Qatar commenced the adoption of e-Government programs back in the year 2000. After some years, 2007, Bahrain began its implementation. However, Bahrain’s government has not met the expectations raised by the Qatar government as far as the adoption and acceptance of e-Government programs is concerned. Meanwhile, among developing nations in the Middle East, Bahrain is considered the top-ranked countries about the adoption of e-Government services since it launched the program. Its success in the Middle East should be recognized. However, when compared to other developed countries, it ranks low. The rate of implementation of e-Government services in developed countries is higher and more efficient. This narrows down to the focus of the government, the level of education they give to their citizens, and how they build trust amongst their residents.
The Importance of adopting e-Government services in developing countries
In developed countries, people are living better and more productive lives- this is mainly because of the practical and successful implementation of e-Government services. According to the United Nations (2016, p.124), the difference between developed countries and developing countries is the level of awareness among citizens. In developed countries, people are literate about technological issues and are highly appreciative of self-advancing compared to people in developing countries. As a result, their governments find it easier to convince them to implement e-Government services by merely outlining the benefits associated with the program. For example, in developed countries, democracy makes it possible for citizens to engage in greater participation to help them interact with public servants. Ideally, the government understands the importance of adopting e-Government services. They have a responsibility to educate the public on the benefits they stand to gain by embracing this program. The interests range from political, economic and social, to administrative.
Politically, a report by the United Nations (2016, p.129) states that e-Government services make interactions between citizens and government agencies easier. Through this program, citizens can access government services electronically without having to visit government agencies physically. A direct connection between the government and its citizens will promote transparency, accountability, and democracy in society. Once all these are achieved, the quality of services delivered by the government will automatically improve. Economically, the program makes the government more effective in its delivery of services. It plays an important role in the economic growth of countries as well as reforms. Moreover, the program offers tremendous services including e-commerce, e-banking, e-procurement, and online trading exchange using electronic transactions between different sectors in society. The results are that businesses within a country grow and succeed because of the technological environment created by the e-Government program (United Nations, 2016, p.123).
Lastly, e-Government also helps administratively. The communication between different departments improves service provision by the government. According to Sheela and Chandran (2014), developing countries need to enhance the use of e-Government services within their departments. The main advantage is to make it simple for governments to delivery service and facilitate easy access and delivery of services without focusing on the bureaucratic processes. The process is likely to reduce corruption with the government and improve the quality of services provide. In developing countries, corruption is rampant, which makes this program a viable option. It ensures communication and interaction between the government and its citizens are positively enhanced. Therefore, the studies have made it apparent that there is a need to adopt e-Government programs in developing nations including Bahrain.
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