Investigating Public Sector Online Communication Channel Adoption and Usage Amongst Older Adults: a UK Local Government Perspective
Nwanekezie, Ukamaka Chikaodili
Since governments around the world are moving away from conventional ways of face to face communication to a more digital approach when delivering services to their citizens. Advancements in using novel information and internet technology e.g. Online Social Networks (OSN) for communications has become a fast-developing strategy in the public sector of the economy. However, research has found that not all the citizens use these online tools; thereby, causing a digital divide. A societal demographic group causing immense concern for governments, organizations and society is the ageing population. It is also this group that is not extensively investigated in e-government research. Recognising the role of older adults in the society and for e-government research, the aim of this research is to identify, explore and understand the factors that encourage older adults of 50 years old and above to continue using a particular online communication channel (Facebook versus Email) when interacting with the government. For this purpose, a conceptual framework was developed which was the Model of Online Communication Channel (MOCC) based on the Expectation Confirmation Theory (ECT), Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) and Channel Expansion Theory (CET) along with service quality and trust factors. To achieve this aim, a quantitative research approach was employed for the data collection process to test the MOCC model. The data collection process was carried out in three phases namely; the content validity, pilot phase and final phase. The data was collated using an online survey tool (SurveyMonkey) which resulted in 222 completed response for the pilot and 1014 completed response for the final data collection. Findings revealed that older adults will continue using a particular online communication channel to interact with the government if they have good knowledge and previous experience of using an online communication medium for interaction. Equally, having a strong satisfactory experience with a medium will encourage them to trust and use that particular online communication medium when interacting with the government. Most significantly, the consequences of ailments being suffered by older adults impacted on their continuance intention to use an online communication channel for interaction. Additionally, to validate and verify the results obtained from the quantitative data collated, an evaluation study was carried out using a qualitative research approach in form of telephone interview. In summary, this research study contributed to the growing research body of Information Systems (IS) knowledge on adoption and continuance usage of technology. Moreover, this research would benefit industry by informing providers of online communication channels to the government to be aware of the factors that influence older adults’ choices when interacting with the government. In so doing, the public sector providers of ICT can learn whether the provided services and products are indeed being accepted by citizens, more than it is recognised as one that is disadvantaged. The major implication of this study is that it provides information with regards to the generational difference within this age segment i.e. 50 years and above. This would help the government determine the best strategy to employ while tackling this issue. Finally, due to the limitations of time, finance and manpower research findings could not be nationally representative of the UK. They are only representative of a single group of society residing in an affluent area of the UK which is Hertfordshire.
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