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Adaptation behaviour in using one-stop smart governance apps: an exploratory study between digital immigrants and digital natives

Abstract

Background

There is an increasing trend for governments to offer innovative city services to citizens, as well as to communicate with them interactively and dynamically, through one-stop smart governance apps, which are the key to drive innovative governance models for future cities. Due to functional differences and complexity of smart governance apps, it may not always be easy for citizens to adapt to these new paradigms of interaction and services. However, limited attention has been paid to investigate the mechanism of citizens’ adaption behavior for these apps.

Aim

This paper aims at exploring the characteristics of adaptation behavior of citizens, in order to help better develop strategies for engaging citizens in using the apps.

Method

The present study conducted in-depth interviews with 23 participants. The findings are derived from the qualitative thematic analysis of the transcribed interviews.

Results

The findings reveal the adaptation and learning paths for digital immigrants and digital natives respectively when using smart governance apps. Furthermore, an integrative framework is developed, arguing that citizens’ adaptation behavior can be either positive or negative, and will be dynamically influenced by digital traits, app quality, sentiments, and task-technology fits.

Conclusion

The findings of the study will be of interest and importance to academics, policy makers, and practitioners who are keen to promote innovative service models through smart governance apps in future cities.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by three grants respectively funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.: 71974215); the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong (No.: 2018A030313706) and the International Program for Ph.D. Candidates, Sun Yat-Sen University.

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Appendices

Appendix 1. The criteria for assigning the interviewees to the two groups in this study

Criteria Digital natives Example Digital immigrants Example
Age Well under 50-year-old the participants who are 23 – 37 years old in the context of this study Closed to 50-year-old or over the participants who are 49 years old or older than 50-year-old in this study
Attitude to explore app functions Actively explore app functions the participants reported that they felt exciting to explore new functions and were willing to spend their time on understanding and using these functions Hardly explore app functions on his/her own the participants reported that they were at a loss when facing new functions and encountered difficulties in learning to use these functions by their own
Experience of using smartphone apps Have positive experience of using smartphone apps from teen years the participants reported that they commonly started to use smartphone apps since their teen years and found that the use of the apps makes it easy to deal with their daily routine (e.g., communication) Little use of smart apps for digital services (e.g., making an appointment online and scanning a two-dimension code to pay) the participants reported that they just started to use smartphone apps recently and had little use of the apps
Leaning ability on app functions Find it easy to learn app functions and use them to solve practical problems the participants reported that they only spend a few seconds/minutes to learn new functions and can successfully compete a specific task by their own Need to be trained to use app functions step by step and rarely use the functions in practice the participants reported that they needed trainings/help from others to use the apps, and without the trainings/help they cannot complete a specific task
  1. Note that although we did not deliberately use a specific age (50-year-old) as a criterion to distinguish digital immigrant and digital natives since the boundary between age groups are vague (Jarrahi & Eshraghi, 2019) at the very beginning, in the context of this study we found that the participants who are closed to 50-year-old or older obviously match the characteristics related to attitude, experiences, and learning ability of technology use towards digital immigrants in our constant data collection process. This shows that age plays an important role in distinguishing the two user groups for one-stop smart governance apps use and is thus added into our selection criteria that makes it easier to select digital immigrants and digital natives in the interviews, serving as a reference for future research. Furthermore, we found that the participants who are well under 50 years old embraced better technical and economic conditions to use smartphone apps earlier (e.g., since their teen years). As to the participants who are closed to 50-year-old or older, they are late starters of using smart apps compared to digital natives, and thus they have little experience of using the apps. In this study, the experience of using the smartphone app was also used as one criterion for assigning the interviewees, in contrast to considering the positive experience from social technologies in prior studies (Jarrahi & Eshraghi, 2019; Jarrahi & Sawyer, 2013).

Appendix 2. Semi-structured interview guide

For individual interviews

  1. 1

    When you use the one-stop smart governance app, how does your usage behaviour change over time?

  2. 2

    For what reasons will you start using new app features that you haven't used before?

  3. 3

    Can you give any example about the process of learning, exploring or utilising new functions of the app?

  4. 4

    How did your emotions or psychological feelings change over time? Why did you feel this way? How will your emotions affect your usage behaviours?

  5. 5

    When encountering usage difficulties or unfamiliar app functions, what will you do to overcome them?

  6. 6

    What concerns do you have about the smart governance app? Will this affect your adaptation of new features?

  7. 7

    Do you think there are any differences between your adaptation process and that of other family members? Please explain how.

For focus groups

  1. 1)

    What are the motivations that enable you to use new functions of one-stop smart governance apps?

  2. 2)

    What are the changes of your adaptation behaviours over time?

  3. 3)

    What are the changes of your cognition and emotion in the adaptation process?

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Zhang, B., Peng, G., Liu, C. et al. Adaptation behaviour in using one-stop smart governance apps: an exploratory study between digital immigrants and digital natives. Electron Markets (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-022-00538-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-022-00538-y

Keywords

  • Smart city
  • Smart governance apps
  • Adaptation behaviour
  • Digital divide
  • Behaviour paths

JEL Classification

  • H8