A cultural theory analysis of e-government: Insights from a local government council in Malaysia

Abstract

In this paper, we use the ways of life proposed by cultural theory—hierarchism, fatalism, individualism, and egalitarianism—to explain the social relations and dynamics over time, which affected the ability to implement and manage a major ICT-enabled government change initiative (e-services). This is illustrated using an in-depth case study of one local government council in Malaysia. Our analysis found culture to be evident across multiple levels, including organizational (local council), subgroup (project team, operators, user group) and individual (IT consultants) in the context of the e-services project. More specifically, various characteristics of the ways of life were salient in the e-services project, particularly during the early years—mostly, hierarchism and fatalism at the organizational and subgroup levels, and individualism at the individual level. Furthermore, the study found changes, for instance, the emergence of egalitarianism at the subgroup level over time. The paper acknowledges that in order for researchers to understand how culture influences e-government, the focus of attention needs to shift from solely concentrating on the organizational level to also understanding the dynamic and fragmented nature of culture at the group and individual levels.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Menard (2002) encompasses “longitudinal” as a broad term, defining it as research in which a) data for each item are collected over two or more distinct time intervals, b) the cases or subjects under investigation are the same or comparable from one time interval to the next, and c) the investigation entails some comparing of data between or among time intervals.

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Jackson, S., Wong, M.S. A cultural theory analysis of e-government: Insights from a local government council in Malaysia. Inf Syst Front 19, 1391–1405 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-016-9652-z

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Keywords

  • ICT implementation
  • E-services
  • Cultural theory
  • Organizational culture
  • ICT and government