Tuesday, June 25, 2013

E-Government Service Essay

The impact of national culture on using E-government service

Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. A. (1989). In their book “Multicultural education.” Define culture as the values, interpretations, symbols and perspectives that differentiate one group of people from another. It is the intangible aspects of human society. People from the same culture interpret thins in similar ways.
The United Nations (www.unpan.org) defines E-government (AOEMA report) as the utilization of the internet and World Wide Web for passing on government information and services to the citizens of a given country.

There are certain theories that are purported to explain the reasons for diversity in culture, they include:
a) Schwartz’s Cultural Values Orientations:
Schwartz uses a multidimensional scaling procedure in analyzing different cultures. He uses seven value types in his analysis and these can be summarized in to three dimensions namely: Embededness verses Autonomy, Hierarchy verses Egalitarianism and Mastery verses Harmony.

b) Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner’s Cultural Model:
Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner’s cultural model explains cultural differences in terms of the challenges that are faced in social communities. This theory is different from Hofstede’s in that Hofstede defines culture in terms of one’s psycho emotion while Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner make their approach be based on challenges that one face. They show that one is not aware of their socialization. They see culture as the different ways in which people solve their problems which enables them to survive.

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c) Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions:
Hofstedes cultural theory expresses culture to be influenced by:

  • Individualism-collectivism; this explains how one perceives themselves as an individual an as being part of a group. This theory is the most studied and is the most complex.
  • Masculinity-femininity: this describes the Importance of a cultures achievement versus considerations of relationships. Achievement is characterized by Success, having an assertive character and acquisition of money and power. Relationship is characterized by Equality of genders and the community caring for those that are disadvantaged and harmony.
  • Power distance: this is characterized by ones acceptance of persons of different power. Those with high power distance accept the position, the follow authority, are concentrated and follow hierarchy of power; those of low power distance generally avoid concentration of authority, are decentralized and consist of few layers in management.
  • Uncertainty avoidance: this shows how different cultures react to uncertain events. Those with low uncertainty avoidance easily embrace uncertain and unpredictable events are less likely to adhere to rules and hierarchies, consider risk taking to be a desirable trait. Those cultures that have high uncertainty avoidance are greatly threatened by any ambiguity, generally prefer stable and predictable situations and greatly rely on rules.

Merchant (2007) stated that many IT researchers have greatly relied Hofstede’s cultural theory when conducting their research on the impact of cultural dimensions on technology. Hofstede’s dimensions have been widely used when measuring work- related cultural influences. Hofstede has previously researched cultural dimensions at IBM sites in over 40 countries. He asked different employees about their general preferences.

Shivraj Kanungo (The George Washington University, USA) and Vikas Jain (The University of Tampa, USA) in their book “Organizational Culture and E-Government Performance: An Empirical Study”, show that the government sector is generally different from the private sector in all countries of the world. This is because of cultural differences between the two sectors. The government is mostly characterized by being rigid and following hierarchy system of management. The government is usually believed to resist changes and does not easily embrace changes in technology. Shivraj Kanungo and Vikas Jain conducted a study on E- government and found that the government institutions that embraced E- government had different cultural traits to than those that did not. The results also showed differences in hierarchy and power tendencies.

Conclusion
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions are the best when it comes to analyzing the impact of culture on e- government services. This is because the theory is based on the psychological traits that affect one.
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