Exploring the Use of E-Government/Online Social Network in the Government of Oman
Al Bulushi, Ali Salim
The rapid development of information and telecommunication technologies (ICTs) in the 21st century has changed society at all levels: individual, group, company and government. As a result, there has been a significant rise in the availability of ICTs and related technologies around the globe, including in developing countries. ICTs include internet infrastructure such as the use of mobile devices, the internet connection and the affiliated platforms of online social networks (OSNs). The provision of online products and services by the government is known as electronic e-government. From a theoretical literature review it was found that research emphasising the use of OSNs in e-government and OSNs in Oman was scarce. Further, studies investigating and explaining the use of OSNs in the public sector and government were few. This motivated the researcher to explore and understand this issue, leading to the formation of the aim of this research: To explore and understand the use of e-government/OSNs in a public sector organisation in a developing country, in this case, government organisations in Oman. To achieve this, a comprehensive and detailed literature review of e-government/OSN research in developed, developing and Gulf countries was completed. Additionally, related theories on ICT diffusion and adoption, institutional theory and culture theory were used as a lens through which a better understanding of e-government/OSNs would be provided and to develop the initial conceptual framework that was then applied in practice. To acquire the data for this research a qualitative research approach involving the use of a case study was employed. The data collection techniques used included observations, interviews and a review of related archival documents. A total of 44 people were interviewed and an additional 37 participants assisted with the observational part of this study. The research results revealed that government organisations adopted OSNs to explore the use of the technology and to cope with the increasing public demands of government. The study revealed many benefits for government organisations after OSNs were adopted, including greater public interaction and participation, increased information transparency, better understanding and increased public awareness of government services, leading to better work efficiency and effectiveness. Further, public interaction and participation was noted to be important for the government as it helped government employees be more responsible and accountable for their work actions. Additionally, due to the application of OSNs, organisational and national cultural changes were identified that led to government work process and procedures being amended such that there was more public participation and interaction. This led to an influence of government policies and decision-making with regards to public services. After the applied part of this study, the initial conceptual framework was revised to reflect the practical aspects of this research. The contributions of this study are: for e-government research, it will add to the increasing body of knowledge in this area. For Omani theoretical literature, it will widen the boundaries of knowledge and OSN use, particularly for the Omani government and other governments in developing countries that seek to use e-government solutions. In countries where cultural aspects are important, this study can provide insights that may not have been considered before. Further, this study has shown that understanding organisational changes and the cultural contexts with respect to e-government and OSN use is important; therefore, more knowledge in this area can be provided by this study. For policymakers, the contribution of this research is the provision of an understanding of a wide range of issues surrounding the adoption of new technologies. In turn, this can assist policymakers with policy-formation such that their institutional purposes and roles can be fulfilled. This study contributes to private sector organisations including internet and OSN providers by explaining and illustrating the benefits of using OSNs in a developing country with an autocratic regime that seeks to provide citizen benefits.
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