Towards a Comprehensive Model to Use E-Government Services

The Phenomenon

A major finding in a recent United Nations (UN) e-government survey exploring the inter-linkages between e-government and sustainable development efforts relates to the steady improvement in all the indicators of the e-government development index, implying that more and more countries are employing e-government policies and programs to sustain efficiency, effectiveness, and inclusiveness as the parameters of sustainable development efforts worldwide (United Nations 2012).

Governments are increasingly embracing e-government as a means to engage citizens through inclusive and participatory service delivery processes for sustainable development (United Nations 2012) and, by doing so, leveraging on e-government’s potential to “reduce costs, improve services, bring transparency and accountability to government, as well as control fraud and corruption” (Singh & Sahu 2008, p. 477).

Extending and supporting the work in this nascent area of research, Gajendra et al (2012) claim that many nations have realized the benefits of e-governance and have commenced providing their services online using the four basic models of e-government, namely government to citizen, government to employees, government to government and government to business.

But while the expectations of governments and other public agencies regarding the viability of e-government remain high owing to the numerous merits associated with utilizing online systems and digitized functions (Gauld et al 2010), the UN report is categorical that citizen usage of e-government services “remains relatively low compared to traditional service delivery methods, even in countries that are making greater efforts to enhance take-up, and notwithstanding continued progress in the provision and sophistication of e-government services” (United Nations 2012, p 102).

This phenomenon, according to the UN report, not only continues to conceal the many potential benefits of e-government but also presents a foremost challenge for policymakers, who need to reconceptualize how public services can be taken more by citizens through the government to citizen model, with the view to assisting realize their full potential benefits and, in doing so, contribute to sustainable development for the people.

E-government has been defined in the literature as “the application of information and communication technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information and communication between government and public” (Gajendra et al 2012, p. 195). Going by this definition, it can be argued that although countries in general have invested immensely in the use of ICTs to enhance their online service delivery to cater to citizens’ needs (United Nations 2012), it is yet unclear why actual citizen usage of e-government services is generally low overall despite the capabilities provided by e-government, such as personalization, user-friendliness, knowledge acquisition and ability to communicate (Kolsaker & Lee-Kelley 2008).

What is clear in the current context is that citizens’ usage of e-government services (‘demand-side’) has thus far been inadequate and has demonstrated incapacity to keep up with the fast spreading provision and accessibility of e-services (‘supply-side’), and that the different speed and growth rate between e-service availability and citizens’ usage of e-government services is reasonably substantial in many countries around the world (United Nations 2012). Based on the low uptake of e-government services, therefore, it is only proper that the functionality and practicality of the e-government concept be questioned given the fact that so many resources have been spent on implementing them yet so few people are actually using them.

Systematic Review of Literature

Objective and Rhetorical Pattern of the Systematic Review

The present study is designed as a literature review to assess, organize, synthesize, and report literature related to the research topic (Leedy & Ormrod 2005), with the view to demonstrating that little is known about citizens’ adoption and readiness factors to use e-government services as a result of the limitations in the models mostly used by scholars to explain e-government readiness and adoption by citizens.

Hart (1998) cited in Levy and Ellis (2006, p.182) acknowledges that the literature review is basically “the use of ideas in the literature to justify the particular approach to the topic, the selection of methods, and the demonstration that this research contributes something new.” Webster and Watson (2002), also cited in the same article, explain that effective literature reviews should provide a firm foundation for advancing knowledge, facilitate theory development, close areas where an overabundance of research studies exist, and expose areas where more research is required. In this light, the present systematic review of literature exposes a research gap on citizens’ adoption and readiness factors to use e-government services.

Obenzinger (2005) argues that most literature reviews follow several fundamental rhetorical patterns, which may be used either in isolation or in combination. Building on the concepts provided by this author, this systematic review of literature follows a ‘Swiss Chess’ rhetorical pattern whereby “the researcher presents a picture of current knowledge, identifying gaps or holes in the field, and argues why the current research plugs up one of the holes” (Obenzinger 2005, p. 5).

Following the recommendation of Lomprey (2008), the ‘Swiss Cheese’ strategy can be utilized not only to establish an overview of current knowledge in the field of e-government, but also to provide several perspectives on citizens’ adoption and readiness factors as illustrated in selected published journal articles and conference proceedings, with the view to identifying the gap involving the apparent lack of integration between citizens’ readiness and adoption factors in the existing e-government usage models.

Definitions

This section provides direct citations of terms derived from the literature with the view to providing a specific understanding on the issues of interest in this study, especially with regard to the topic of citizens’ usage of e-government services.

  • Behavioral intention – “A person’s subjective probability that s/he will perform some behavior” (p. 4).
  • Citizen’s e-readiness – “The degree to which [the] citizen [is] prepared to participate in the networked world” (p. 9).
  • Compatibility – “The degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopter” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531)
  • Complexity – “The degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • E-governance – “Use of information and communication technologies to transform and support the processes and structures of a governance system” (p. 529).
  • E-government – “The application of Information and communication technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information and communication between government and public” (Gajendra et al 2012, p. 195).
  • Elective – “The extent to which one perceives the adoption decision as non-mandatory” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • E-ready Citizen – “One who is able to use ICT and benefit from the internet” (Ismail 2008, p. 9)
  • Government e-readiness – “The degree to which a government is prepared to participate in the networked world” (Ismail 2008, p. 9).
  • Image – “The degree to which one perceives the use of the technology as a means of enhancing one’s status within a social group” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Job relevance – “An individual’s perception of the degree to which the technology is applicable to his or her job” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Non-e-ready citizen – “One who is not ready to use ICT and benefit from the internet” (Ismail 2008, p. 9)
  • Observability – “The degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 532).
  • One-stop government – “The integration of public online services from a customer’s viewpoint via a single entry point, irrespective of whether these services are actually provided by different departments or authorities” (United Nations 2012, p. 64).
  • Output quality – “An individual’s perception of how well a system performs tasks necessary to his or her job” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Perceived ease of use – “The degree to which the user expects the target system to be free of efforts” (Al-adawi et al 2005, p. 5).
  • Perceived risk – “The citizen’s subjective expectation of suffering a loss in pursuit of a desired outcome” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Perceived usefulness – “The user’s subjective probability that using a specific application system will increase his or her job performance within an organizational context” (Al-adawi et al 2005, p. 5).
  • Relative advantage – “The degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Result demonstrability – “The tangibility of the results of using the technology” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Subjective norm – “A person’s perception that people who are important to him/her think he/she should or should not use the technology” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531).
  • Triability – “The degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 531-532).
  • Trust – “A set of expectations shared by all those in an exchange” (Shirish & Srivastava 2009, p. 360).
  • Trust in e-government websites – “Individuals’ perception of the trustworthiness of the technology used in producing and delivering the governmental services” (Zafiropoulos et al 2012, p. 532).
  • Use intentions – “Degree of intention to use an innovation” (Rokhman, 2011, p. 231).

Research Parameters

This section provides insight into the methodologies and strategies used in searching and appraising the relevant literature, including the search words, search engines and databases used to come up with the reviewed literature. The criterion used to document the literature is also suggested, before introducing a writing plan that aims to frame how information and concepts are to be collected, organized, synthesized and presented in the Review of the literature.

Search Strategy

The search strategy essentially depicts the review and summary of the resources and methods employed to locate the literature that is relevant to the field of e-government adoption by citizens, citizen readiness and adoption factors for use of e-government services, as well as technology acceptance models in e-government context. Consequently, the search strategy for this literature review began with four general indexing descriptors, namely

  1. citizen’s e-government adoption,
  2. readiness factors for e-government usage,
  3. adoption factors for e-government usage, and
  4. technology acceptance models in e-government context.

Search results are graded using four indicators (poor, fair, good and excellent) that are based on the relevancy of the articles and conference proceedings to the four indexing descriptors mentioned as well as the number of search results returned.

University of Oregon’s online libraries ScienceDirect, OneSearch database and Ebscohost databases, along with private subscription databases such as Emerald, were used to search for the relevant articles in scholarly journals. It is important to note that when advanced search features were employed to constrict searches by category and sub category, the most relevant results for articles and conference proceedings appeared in the ScienceDirect, Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, Emerald, and JSTOR databases. The key terms extracted from the abstracts of trade articles and journals in the search results include: E-government, Trust, Citizen, E-government Adoption, Technology Acceptance Model, Diffusion of Innovation, Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, Readiness Factors, and Adoption Factors.

Topic Area Search Terms

  • E-Government Services
  • Citizen Usage & E-Government
  • Technology Acceptance Models
  • Technology Adoption Models
  • Process Theory & Variance Theory
  • Citizen Readiness Factors & E-Government
  • Citizen Adoption Factors & E-Government

Search Results Details

The search results are reported in the table below

Table 1: Search Record.

Database/Search Engine Search Terms No. of Results Quality of Results
EBSCOhost (Academic Search Premier and Business Source Premier) E-Government Services 213 Good
Citizen Usage & E-Government 6 Fair
Technology Acceptance Models 720 Good
Technology Adoption Models 123 Good
Process Theory & Variance Theory 2 Good
Citizen Readiness Factors & E-Government 1 Fair
Citizen Adoption Factors & E-Government 2 Fair
Emerald E-Government Services 208 Good
Citizen Usage & E-Government 78 Good
Technology Acceptance Models 5 Good
Technology Adoption Models 8 Good
Process Theory & Variance Theory 3 Fair
Citizen Readiness Factors & E-Government 16 Fair
Citizen Adoption Factors & E-Government 10 Fair
ScienceDirect E-Government Services
Citizen Usage & E-Government
Technology Acceptance Models
Technology Adoption Models
Process Theory & Variance Theory
Citizen Readiness Factors & E-Government
Citizen Adoption Factors & E-Government
JSTOR E-Government Services
Citizen Usage & E-Government
Technology Acceptance Models
Technology Adoption Models
Process Theory & Variance Theory
Citizen Readiness Factors & E-Government
Citizen Adoption Factors & E-Government

Literature Collection and Selection

Following the strategy described by Leedy & Omrod (2005), literature is primarily assembled and tested by scanning and reviewing abstracts and indexes of the journal articles and conference proceedings for quality, credibility and suitability. In particular, these articles and conference proceedings are carefully evaluated against the following attributes before been categorized as poor, fair, good and excellent.

Relevance

Owing to the fact literature for systematic reviews is chosen based on the fact that it must demonstrate the capacity to address the original research question or topic (Bell 2013), and that primary sources of literature provide the foundational material which supports the research question and/or topic and secondary sources of literature provide supporting and cross-referencing perspectives (Cornell University Library Guides 2013), the author takes care to select articles and conference proceedings that specifically address the topic of citizen adoption and readiness factors for e-government usage. Sources on adoption and readiness models for usage of e-government services are also selected.

Authors

Authors of the literature used in this systematic literature review are chosen following the guidelines provided by Cornell University Library Guides (2013) for appraising authors using the following indicators:

  1. author’s credentials in terms of institutional affiliation, research studies undertaken, educational background, and if the author’s publications are written in his or her principal area of expertise,
  2. how often are the works of the author cited by other authors and publications,
  3. the author’s dedication to the subject matter, as noted by years of experience and contribution to the promotion of e-government usage and adoption by citizens and/or other organizational entities, and
  4. how the author states the objective of the material and how well the author presents and argues his or her position.
Publisher

Owing to the fact that publishers are assessed in the same manner as authors, especially in the context of basing selection on their reputation for publishing scholarly and expert level content (Cornell University Library Guides 2013), the researcher makes sure that publishers included in this systematic literature review are reputed in publishing scholarly articles as well as conference proceedings of respected authors in the e-government domain. This review follows the guideline provided by Bell (2013) to exclude other sources of literature such as popular magazines and industry white papers not only due to the fact that they are largely considered anecdotal, but also due to their potential commercial bias.

Accessibility

All sources used in this literature review are from freely available, peer-reviewed scholarly journals can be accessed on and downloaded from the following databases: Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, ScienceDirect, Emerald and JSTOR.

Audience

With regards to the anticipated audience, it is important to mention that only literature which addresses the concerns and research topics of scholarly and professional audiences (Cornell University Library Guides 2013) in the e-government domain has been considered, and particular attention is focused to literature sources that address scholarly and professional platforms involved in the adoption and use of e-government services among citizens.

Quality

Only those sources that are logically structured, complete, factual, and grammatically correct have been included in the present systematic literature review (Bell 2013).

Writing Plan

The writing plan for this literature review, which follows Obenzinger’s (2005) Swiss Cheese approach, is organized into three sections that are designed to assess the selected literature on the use of e-government services by citizens, with the view to demonstrating that little is still known about citizen’s readiness to use e-government services. It should be recalled that the Swiss Cheese strategy is basically a rhetorical pattern whereby “the researcher presents a picture of current knowledge, identifying gaps or holes in the field, and argues why the current research plugs up one of the holes” (Obenziger 2005, p. 5). Consequently, following the approach, the writing outline is as follows:

Section 1

The first section of this literature review presents a picture of the current knowledge and models on citizens’ readiness to use e-government services, including the identified readiness and adoption factors from the sampled literature. Specifically, this section provides foundational knowledge and a contextual background on the e-government field, but with particular reference to citizen’s readiness and adoption factors as well as an assessment of e-government usage models.

Section 2

The second section attempts to integrate the relevant literature, with the view to identifying the gap that little is indeed known about citizens’ readiness to use e-government services. This section assesses the relevant literature at length to demonstrate how there is little use of readiness factors in e-government usage models, and also how there is a dearth of literature integrating both readiness and adoption factors into one usage model. Additionally, this section attempts to identify the theoretical perspectives (process versus variance) of the models in the reviewed literature, with the view to demonstrating that majority of the existing literature on e-government adoption and readiness employs variance theories and the limitations that such theoretical perspectives present.

Section 3

Lastly, the third section aims to consolidate the findings with the view to demonstrating the need to undertake a study to fill the gap in the literature. The conclusion is also provided to highlight the important issues raised in this systematic literature review.

Review of the Literature

The main aim of this review is to prove that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services through reference to multiple relevant sources and perspectives found within the literature. Literature is examined that explains how various scholars deal with citizens’ readiness and adoption factors, the limitations in the models used to explain e-government adoption by citizens, as well as issues dealing with variance versus process theoretical orientations. The review is organized into three separate parts as demonstrated in the writing plan.

Identification of Citizen’s Readiness Factors

This section presents a picture of the current knowledge and models on citizens’ readiness to use e-government services, including the identified readiness and adoption factors from the sampled literature. Several scholars (e.g., Al-Gahtani 2011, p. 48; Venkatesh et al 2012, p. 118) describe readiness and adoption factors in IS research as attributes that play an important role in terms of influencing people’s intentions to accept online transactions and increase their use. The citizens’ readiness factors identified in the reviewed literature are illustrated in the table below.

Table 2: Readiness Factors Identified in the Reviewed Literature.

Citizen readiness factor Conceptual Definition Sources using Factor
Perceived Awareness “Gaining and acquiring knowledge, education, and consciousness as much as users perceive to be sufficient to learn the characteristics of a system, use it with skill, and realize its strategic functionality and competitive advantages and disadvantages” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Ismail (2008); Shalini (2009); Rorissa and Demissie (2010); Shareef et al (2011); El-Haddadeh et al (2013)
Digital divide “The gap between citizens who are able to access information through the Internet and those without access” (Ismail 2008, p. 25) Kuk (2002); Takao (2004); Akman et al (2005); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Asgarkahani (2007); Singh and Sahu (2008); Al Nagi and Hamden (2009); Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Gauld et al (2010); El-Haddadeh et al (2013)
E-literacy (also used interchangeably with information literacy, IT literacy and computer literacy) This concept demonstrates the capacity of citizens to employ technology in their daily life and routines “so that different electronic applications, such as e-commerce and e-government, can succeed” (Ismail 2008, p. 25). Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Warf (2008); Al Nagi and Hamden (2009); Shalini (2009) Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Rorissa and Demissie (2010)
Accessibility “The extent to which users have equal access to the website” (Kaisara & Pather 2011, p. 217) Wimmer (2002); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Kaisara and Pather (2011); Khalil (2011); Rowley (2011); El-Haddadeh et al (2013);
Perceived Trust The extent to which users of e-government “have attitudinal confidence for reliability, credibility, safety, and integrity of [e-government] from the technical, organizational, social, and political standpoints and also from the effective, efficient, prompt, and sympathetic customer service response” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31). Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Ismail (2008) Missingham (2008); Shalini (2009); Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Shuler et al (2010); Al-Gahtani (2011); Khalil (2011); Rowley (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Bonson et al (2012); Zafiropoulos et al (2012); El-Haddadeh (2013)
Privacy “The privacy issue relates to where the collected information will be stored , for what purpose and for how long, and who has access to it” (Ismail 2008, p. 39) Kim and Kim (2003); Takao (2004); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Asgarkahani (2007); Ismail (2008); Shalini (2009); Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Al-Gahtani (2011); Khalil (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Venkatesh et al (2012); El-Haddadeh (2013); Shin (2013);
Security Security in the e-government context relates to the capacity to safeguard or protect the information sent and received by government agencies (Ismail 2008, p. 64) Kim and Kim (2003); Akman (2005); Anttroiko (2005); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Ismail (2008); Missingham (2008); Shalini et al (2009); Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010); Al-Gahtani (2011); Kaisara and Panther (2011); Khalil (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012) Venkatesh et al (2012); El-Haddadeh et al (2013); Shin (2013);
Computer self-efficacy “The judgment of users’ technological capability to use, interact, and transact in an [electronic government] system based on prior knowledge, experience, and skill as they perceive it is required to do so” (Shareef et al 2011, p 31) Shareef et al (2011); Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012)
Availability of Resources “The availability and Freedom of using electricity, telephones, computers, internet, and ICT with competitive features like access, speed, and cost” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Kuk (2002); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Khalil (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Venkatesh et al (2012)
Perceived ability to use “The degree to which a user of [e-government] perceives/his/her competence in and comfortable ability for using [e-government] system technologically, organizationally, and psychologically that match with individual’s values, social needs and overall attitudes” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Kuk (2002); Wimmer (2002); Akman et al (2005); Anttroiko (2005); Al-Gahtani (2011); Khalil (2011); Rowley (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012); Venkatesh et al (2012); Zafiropoulos et al (2012); Shin (2013)
Subjective norm “An individual’s perception of whether people important to them think the behavior should be performed” (Shin 2013, p. 197) Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012); Zafiropoulos et al (2012); Shin (2013)
Multilingual option “Inclusion of different prime languages in [e-government] websites to facilitate stakeholders in viewing, selecting, downloading, interacting, and transacting with their native language in the absence of human interaction” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Shareef et al (2013)
Information quality “Information quality covers the extent to which complete, accurate, organized, understandable, up-to-date, and timely information is provided in the website for the customers to obtain information about any of the intended objectives” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Kuk (2002); Mutula and Van Brakel (2006); Kaisara and Pather (2011); Khalil (2011); Rowley, (2011); Venkatesh et al (2012); Shareef et al (2011); Zafiropoulos et al (2012)
Perceived uncertainty “The degree to which users of [e-government] perceive risk in transactions due to uncontrollable and unknown situations in the virtual environment associated with [e-government]” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31). It is important to note that this factor has a negative relationship with trust in e-government adoption contexts Al-Gahtani (2011); Khalil (2011); Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012); Shareef et al (2011);
Perceived functional benefit “The degree to which citizens perceive the overall functional benefits, both absolute and relative – including cost, time, efficiency, and effectiveness of using an [e-government] system – instead of using traditional government physical office functions” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Khalil (2011); Rowley (2011); Shareef et al (2011)
Perceived image “The degree to which citizens behaviorally and culturally perceive that adoption of [e-government] enhances and improves social status and prestige” (Shareef et al 2011, p. 31) Kaisara and Pather (2011); Shareef et al (2011); Zafiropoulos et al (2012)

The table above shows that apart from multilingual option (Shareef et al 2011), all the other citizens’ readiness factors are well documented in multiple sources of literature. It is important to note that the models mostly mentioned in the review include technology acceptance model (TAM), diffusion of innovation (DOI), IS success model and theory of reasoned action (TRA), along with their benefits and limitations in IS research (see for example, Ismail 2008; Shareef et al 2011; Venkatesh et al 2012; Shin 2013).

Apart from assessing and discussing individual readiness factors as demonstrated in table 1, Section two of this review demonstrates that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services due to the fact that many of the readiness factors are not aligned effectively with the theoretical models used to show how citizens adopt and use e-government services. Perhaps this might be the reason why Venkatesh at al (2012, p. 117-118) argue that while previous studies have frequently adopted the technology acceptance model (TAM) to understand user acceptance and use of technology-oriented services, the model is unable to provide specific guidance to direct design and practice due to conceptualization challenges.

Shin (2013, p. 195) cites existing literature (e.g., Venkatesh & Brown 2001; Loo et al 2009) to criticize TAM for apparent lack of contextual understanding, particularly in light of the fact that the model is unclear on which specific factors facilitate and/or inhibit user acceptance of a particular technology. This gap in the literature is expounded by the fact that there has been insufficient examination of the ‘fit’ between the supply assumptions of e-government and citizen usage drivers, particularly in light of the fact that most of the existing literature on citizens’ interactions with e-government assumes a ‘supply’ orientation rather than dealing with the ‘demand’ side and the factors that influence the demand and adoption of e-government services by citizens (Rowley 2011, p. 53).

Integration of the Reviewed Literature

The second section integrates the relevant literature, with the view to reinforcing the perception that little is indeed known about citizens’ readiness to use e-government services. This section assesses the relevant literature at length to demonstrate how there is little use of readiness factors in e-government usage models, and also how there is a dearth of literature integrating both readiness and adoption factors into one usage model. Additionally, this section attempts to identify and discus the predominant theoretical perspectives (process versus variance), with the view to demonstrating that majority of the existing literature on e-government adoption and readiness employs variance theories and the limitations that such theoretical perspectives present.

A Discussion of Identified Citizen’s Readiness and Adoption Factors

In order to provide a better understanding of the complete picture of usage decision of e-government services by citizens, the proposed study aims to build a comprehensive usage process model of e-government services, which ensures that citizen’s readiness and adoption factors are fully integrated into one e-government usage process. In view of this objective, it is important to evaluate and discuss the identified readiness and adoption factors not only to demonstrate the research gap but also to show how these attributes can be integrated into a comprehensive usage model.

The readiness/adoption factors discussed in this subsection include: perceived awareness, digital divide, e-literacy, accessibility, perceived trust, privacy, security, computer self-efficacy, availability of resources, perceived ability to use, subjective norm, multilingual option, information quality, perceived uncertainty, perceived functional benefit and perceived image.

Perceived Awareness

In investigating the forces and pressures influencing the implementation and institutionalization of electronic service implementation (ESI) in the public sector, El-Haddadeh et al (2013, p. 137) view awareness as an integral component in promoting public sector e-services to improve citizens’ participation. In their study aimed at analyzing 582 e-government service websites in Africa, Rorissa and Demissie (2010, p. 168) are of the opinion that “African countries need to create awareness among their citizens through literacy campaigns to make them aware of the benefits of e-government services. Shalini (2009) finds perceived lack of awareness about the existence of e-government services as one of the main factors that limit citizens’ e-readiness in Mauritania, while Shareef et al (2011, p. 32) find it as one of the critical factors that enable citizens to adopt e-government.

Digital Divide

Akman et al (2005, p. 245) are of the opinion that lack of access to Internet amongst certain sections of the population is one of the major barriers to e-government, while Almararabeh and Abu-Ali (2010, p. 32) see it as one of the challenges to implementation and adoption of e-government as citizens without access to the Internet “cannot learn essential computer skills, cannot access information that can provide economic opportunities, and cannot share in the benefits of e-government.”

In discussing the digital divide, Asgarkahani (2007, p. 129) argues that the difference in access to ICT’s and global networks can potentially hinder the introduction of digital government initiatives that are aimed at fostering social inclusive governments, while Eh-Haddadeh et al (2013, p. 137) posit that digital divide is one of the social factors that influence adoption behavior as it affects other constructs such as usage, accessibility, social inclusion and participation.

In assessing the ‘demand’ side of e-government in Australia and New Zealand, Gauld et al (2010) find that majority of the people are reluctant to use some of the more sophisticated transactional e-government services due to digital divide, which was seen to exist where older age and less education are associated with lower ICT and e-government use and support. Overall, however, although the construct is mentioned by various scholars in the review as demonstrated in Table 2 above, none of the scholars integrates it in their models as one of the critical factor for adoption of e-government services by citizens.

E-Literacy

In discussing this construct, Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2002, p. 32) argue that marginalized groups are likely to be left out of the digital revolution since they are unable to make use of information and communication technologies by virtue of their computer illiteracy.

These authors further argue that e-literacy is a fundamentally important factor in deciding whether e-government will have the potential to either equalize access to government and its services, or enhance the barriers to participation. Al Nagi and Hamdan (2009, p. 578-579) argue that the existence of traditional and technological illiteracy in the Arab world is one of the foremost challenges facing e-government implementation because citizens are not ready or willing to accept such a change. However, although the construct is well documented in the literature as shown in Table 2, none of the reviewed articles integrates it into any usage model.

Accessibility

In their study, Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2009, p. 32) acknowledge the importance of accessibility construct in e-government readiness research by suggesting that governments must serve all members of the society irrespective of their physical capabilities by introducing online services designed with appropriate interfaces for all members of the population. Kaisara and Shin (2011, p. 217) cite Bertot and Jaeger (2006) in arguing that “governments ought to design their websites in a manner that ensures that universal access is afforded to citizens.”

Although the accessibility construct is well documented in the reviewed literature as shown in Table 2, it is only Shin (2013, p. 197) who uses it as an important contextual factor while expanding upon TAM to explain the adoption of cloud computing. The author finds that perceived access is often conceptualized as a belief that cloud computing is both convenient to use and easy to access, hence its critical importance in accounting for the variances in technology adoption and usage.

Perceived Trust

As demonstrated in Table 2, trust is perhaps one of the most important technology adoption factor covered in the reviewed literature. Ismail (2008, p. 36-40) integrates the construct in his process-oriented citizens readiness for e-government (CREG) model, arguing that it is a critical component in determining citizens’ use or non-use of e-government services. In developing the CREG model, Ismail (2008) integrates three readiness factors associated with trust namely technology trust (security and privacy), government trust (motivation and transparency), and e-government trust (credibility, customer satisfaction and response time). Al-Gahtani (2011) integrates the well-documented TAM with the trust construct, with the view to developing a comprehensive model that could be employed to describe the factors that drive individuals to engage in online transactions over the Web.

The level of trust to engage in online transactions, according to the author, is determined by factors such as the degree of uncertainty and risk. Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2002, p. 32-33) acknowledge that “without trust, citizens who may already be leery of using technology may avoid and even shun the use of online services that ask for detailed personal information.” Other scholars who have integrated the trust construct in their TAM- or DOI-oriented usage models in the review include Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) who argue that perceived trust is determined by perceived uncertainty, perceived security and perceived privacy, and Zafiropoulos et al (2012) who argue that factors such as trust, perceived risk, image, subjective norm and output quality do not substantially influence the adoption and use of e-government services. Such contradictory findings imply that little is indeed known about trust as a readiness factor for e-government adoption and usage by citizens.

Privacy

This construct has received substantial attention in the reviewed literature, though only Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) integrate it as an autonomous construct in their e-government adoption model (GAM). In developing the model, the authors suggest that perceived privacy, along with perceived information quality and perceived trust, determines the assurance to use e-government services. Ismail (2008, p. 39) submits that “in e-government, the privacy issue is more important than just in the context of surfing the internet or purchasing goods online because requesting e-government services online requires citizens to submit personal information.”

However, the author views privacy as a determinant of trust in e-government services rather than as an independent construct in determining readiness to use e-government services. Al-Gahtani (2011, p. 53) views privacy as an independent construct in readiness literature by suggesting that “the perceived credibility that people have in the system, to securely conclude their transactions and maintain the privacy of their personal information, affects their voluntary acceptance of e-transaction.”

Khalil (2011, p. 389) views the construct as a subset of trust, while Kim and Kim (2003, p. 369) view it in the context of information security by arguing that, to facilitate adoption of e-government services by citizens, government officials should emphasize privacy protection and attempt to ensure that information used for specific transactions will not be used for purposes that are not authorized by the provider. The contradiction in locating the privacy construct in the assessed e-government literature reinforces the gap that this study is attempting to fill.

Security

This construct has also received considerable attention in the assessed studies, though only a few scholars integrate it into their readiness models. Ismail (2008, p. 36-40) integrates the construct in his CREG model as a determinant of technology trust, while Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) include it as a subset of perceived trust in GAM. Shin (2013) expand upon the TAM by including security as one of the contextual factors determining the acceptance of cloud computing services in government agencies, along with availability and access.

Indeed, Shin (2013, p. 197) opines that perceived security, which basically implies the extent to which an individual believes that using a particular application will be risk free, is a critical component in determining both perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. In their exploration, Almarabeh and Abu-Ali (2010, p. 32-33) argue that security must be addressed in the design phase of any e-government initiative as security breaches can compromise adoption and usage by shattering public trust in e-government.

Computer Self-Efficacy

Although two scholars (Santhanamery & Ramayah 2012; Shareef et al 2011) mention this readiness construct in the reviewed literature, only Shareef et al (2011) integrate it into their e-government adoption model as a contributing factor in determining the attitude to use e-government services, among other factors such as perceived compatibility, perceived awareness, and availability of resources. The lack of inclusion of this factor in the assessed literature once again demonstrates that little is known of the critical readiness factors that enable citizens to adopt e-government at differing phases of service maturity, hence the urgent need to undertake the proposed study.

Availability of Resources

Shareef et al (2011) integrate this adoption factor in their e-government adoption model as one of the determinants in developing the attitude to use e-government services among citizens. Venkatesh et al (2012, p. 119) not only argue that computer resources (i.e., software and hardware) requirement demonstrate the degree to which users need to expend effort on acquiring the necessary computer resources to use a service, but also adopt the dissonance theory to demonstrate that in situations where the facilitating resources are absent, citizens may adjust their attitudes negatively to be consistent with that situation, resulting in lower intentions to use technology. Kuk (2002, p. 355) acknowledges that availability of resources is critical in determining the digital divide.

Although there is evidence in prior research demonstrating a positive correlation between availability of resources and intention to use e-government services (Khalil 2011, p. 388), the construct is scantly addressed in the literature as shown in Table 2.

Perceived Ability to Use

This readiness factor has been well documented in the reviewed literature as demonstrated in Table 2. Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) have integrated the construct in their adoption model as an independent construct. This factor is also covered well in the TAM as demonstrated in Shin (2013) and Venkatesh et al (2012). The construct, along with perceived usefulness and attitudes towards usage, has been incorporated in the TAM as a critical factor intended to measure user acceptance of the system.

Subjective Norm

This construct has been defined in the literature as “an individual’s perception of whether people important to them think the behavior should be performed” (Shin 2013, p. 197). In discussing the theory of reasoned action (TRA), Shin (2013, p. 196) acknowledges that “an individual’s behavior is determined by his or her behavioral intention to do that behavior and that behavioral intention is jointly determined by the person’s attitudes and subjective norms.”

While the author cites other prior research studies (e.g., Davis 1989; Brown & Venkatesh 2005) to show that subjective norm is a determinant in the adoption and utilization of new technologies, only one of the reviewed articles (Zafiropoulos et al 2012) integrate the construct in their usage model, which is implicitly grounded on the TAM, the extended TAM and the DOI theory to describe teachers’ behavioral intentions to adopt and use e-government services in Greece. Although the Zafiropoulos study finds that subjective norm does not substantially influence the use of e-government services, findings from Shin’s (2013 )study point to the contrary by showing that subjective norm directly affects the intent to use technology, hence the need to recalibrate the construct in the context of models used to address citizen readiness and usage concerns.

Multilingual Option

This construct has been integrated in Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) as one of the factors (along with perceived ability to use) that determines citizens’ ability to use e-government services.

Information Quality

Al-Gahtani (2011) integrates the well-established technology acceptance model (TAM) with three constructs (trust, credibility and risk) do develop a comprehensive model that could be employed to describe the factors that drive people to accept online transactions over the Web. The author postulates that information quality affects the perceived credibility that citizens have in the system, especially in the context of securely concluding their transactions and maintaining the privacy of their personal information (Al-Gahtani 2011, p. 53). In this respect, the author argues that information content accuracy affects citizen’s acceptance of e-transaction.

Kaisara and Pather (2011, p. 217) cite previous studies to demonstrate the most common reason why citizens visit e-government websites is to obtain information, thus quality of information is fundamental for accurate decision-making. Although the construct has been included in the IS Success Model, along with other factors such as system quality, service quality, user satisfaction, use, intention to use and net benefits (Kaisara and Pather 2011, p. 212), we argue that little is known about this readiness factor as no author in the reviewed literature is yet to integrate or operationalize it with other readiness factors contained in mainstream readiness and adoption models, with the view to demonstrating how it affects citizens’ usage of e-government services.

Perceived Uncertainty

This factor has been well documented in the literature (see Table 2), though only Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) have integrated it in their e-government adoption model as an important determinant of perceived trust, which then informs the assurance to use e-government services. In his study, Al-Gahtani (2011, p. 53) cites Benassi (1999) in arguing that “the importance of trust is elevated in ecommerce because of the high degree of uncertainty and risk present in most on-line transactions.”

In investigating the relationship between the national culture values and practices on the one hand, and e-government readiness on the other, Khalil (2011, p. 395) adopts the concept of uncertainty avoidance to demonstrate the extent to which citizens in a society depend on social norms, rules, and procedures to assuage unpredictability of future events. Owing to the fact that perceived uncertainty is negatively correlated to usage intentions and discontinuation of use (Santhanamery & Ramayah 2012, p. 400; Shareef et al 2011), there is need to develop the construct further by locating it in a process-based readiness model aimed at demonstrating citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services.

Perceived Functional Benefit

This readiness factor has been mentioned by several authors in the reviewed articles as demonstrated in Table 2. However, only Shareef et al (2011, p. 27-28) integrate the construct in their e-government adoption model as one of the significant factors for citizens’ adoption of e-government services at the static level. In their adoption model, these authors posit that perceived functional benefit and perceived image determine adherence to use e-government services. Anttroiko (2005, p. 81-82) acknowledges that some of the assumed benefits that drive people to use technology include flexibility, ease of use, speed and new dimensions of service, such as personalization and multimedia features.

Gauld et al (2010, p. 184) argue that to increase the potential for e-government usage, stakeholders should shift from focusing on technological features in deciding about the benefits offered by the systems, to a focus on the importance of humans in the development and use of these systems. Consequently, it can be argued that there still exists a gap in the way this construct has been used in the literature as most scholars assume an overly technology focus when evaluating benefits rather than stressing the human-oriented benefits that reinforce the use of e-government services among the intended population.

Perceived Image

Both Shareef et al (2011, p. 30) and Zafiropoulos et al (2012) integrate the perceived image factor in their models for e-government adoption and use; however, while the former argue that the construct is important in determining adherence to use e-government services, the latter conclude that perceived image, along with other factors such as trust, perceived risk, subject norm and information quality, does not substantially influence the use of e-government services. In this light, it can be argued that the reviewed literature is not conclusive in locating the importance of this construct in existing adoption and usage models, hence the need to fill this gap.

Theoretical Models for Readiness and Usage

Although most of the reviewed literature makes mention of user models, such as technology acceptance model (TAM), diffusion of innovation (DOI), IS success model and theory of reasoned action (TRA), only a few (Ismail 2008; Al-Gahtani 2011; Kaisara & Pather 2011; Shareef et al 2011; Zafiropoulos et al 2012; Rowley 2011; Shin 2013) attempt to expand the models with the view to including some of the identified readiness factors. Al-Gahtani (2011), for instance, integrates the well-established TAM with other three readiness variables namely trust, credibility and risk, to develop a comprehensive model that could be used to describe the factors that drive individuals to accept Internet-based transactions in Saudi Arabia.

Although his findings demonstrate that trust, credibility and risk play a significant function in terms of influencing individuals to accept online transactions within the Saudi context, he is of the opinion that a comprehensive model describing the factors that come into play to drive individuals to accept online transactions would be of critical importance to for both scholars and practitioners in terms of assisting them to better understand individual online behavior in the emerging e-commerce and e-government context (Al-Gahtani 2011, p. 48).

Kaisara and Panther (2011, p. 212) base their e-government evaluation study on an IS success model, and incorporates constructs such as information quality, system quality, service quality, user satisfaction, intention to use, and net benefits provided by the e-government application as critical factors that determine citizens’ adoption behavior.

Rowley (2011, p. 56), cites existing literature using TAM and DOI (e.g., Carter & Belanger 2005; Carter 2008) to acknowledge that the most important factors in the context of e-government adoption include perceived ease of use, compatibility, trustworthiness, perceived usefulness and previous use of an e-government service, with this particular author suggesting that perceived usefulness emerges as the most important factor as it alone explains 75% of the variance in intention to use. Rowley (2011, p. 56) further asserts that service quality influences citizen’s e-government adoption behavior and is determined by factors such as “site features, security, communication, reliability, customer support, responsiveness, information, accessibility, delivery, and personalization.” It is important to note the commonly employed user acceptance models fail to integrate these readiness and adoption factors into one usage model.

Shareef et al (2011) expand on TAM and DOI to identify the most important factors that enable citizens to successfully adopt and use e-government services at diverse phases of service maturity. Their empirical study finds that

  1. organizational and financial perspectives have unique implications over parsimonious technology adoption behavior,
  2. existing models of technology adoption such as TAM, DOI and theory of planned behavior (TPB) cannot in themselves capture and specify the overall essence of e-government behavior of citizens,
  3. e-government behavior varies based on service maturity levels, and that
  4. some of the critical factors that enable citizens to adopt e-government at differing phases of service maturity include awareness, self-efficacy, availability of resources, ability to use, compatibility, functional benefit, image, information quality, service response, trust, uncertainty, security and privacy (Shareef et al 2011, p. 25-30).

In reviewing the models, Shareef et al (2011, p. 17) cite previous research studies (Al-Adawi et al 2005; Chen & Thurmaier 2005; Ebrahim & Irani 2005; Gilbert et al 2004; Klievink & Janssen 2009; Kumar et al 2007; Phang et al 2005; Reddick 2004; Sakowicz 2007; Schedler & Summermatter 2007; Shareef et al 2009) to show that the adoption models offered so far in the academic literature are mainly conceptual as extensive empirical studies among the actual users to validate and generalize the models are absent.

Shareef et al (2011, p. 17) further argue that “most of those who have attempted to validate their models did not rigorously review the literature and integrate discourse from technical, social, organizational, political, and cultural perspectives to develop their ontological and epistemological paradigms of model validation paradigm.” These assertions prove that little is indeed known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services due to the fact that many of the readiness factors are not aligned with models used to show how citizens adopt and use e-government services.

Indeed, Shareef et al (2011, p. 18) cite previous literature (e.g., Jaeger 2003; Kraemer & King 2003) to demonstrate that “despite the potentially significant impacts of e-Gov systems on public administrations, organizations, and society, so far only a few systematic and thorough studies have been undertaken on the subject to comprehensively integrate overall factors related to the successful implementation of e-Gov.” A successful model, according to these authors, should not only focus on the criteria necessary for citizens to adopt technology that will enable for the successful implementation of e-government, but also integrate all citizens’ readiness and adoption factors into one usage model.

Shin (2013) investigates the acceptance of cloud computing services by

  1. focusing on the primary characteristics that affect behavioral intent,
  2. expanding upon the technology acceptance model (TAM) by including contextual factors such as availability, access, security, and reliability, and
  3. evaluating the perception of users working in the public sector regarding cloud computing.

In recognizing the limitations of the existing models, Shin (2013, p. 195) argues that “there is a concurrent need to develop and gain empirical support for models of technology acceptance within the public sector, and to examine technology acceptance and utilization issues among public employees to improve the success of implementation n this arena.” Shin (2013) evaluates existing literature (e.g., Behrend et al 2011; Jaeger et al 2008; Kshetri 2010; Yoo 2011) to propose a cloud computing acceptance model consisting of key constructs such as availability, security, reliability and privacy , which are thought to affect or influence TAM’s adoption factors consisting of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. These factors, according to Shin (2013, p. 196), influence a person’s intention to use a particular technology.

Zafiropulous et al (2012, p. 528-529) employ TAM, the extended TAM, and the DOI, along with the fundamental determinants of user acceptance in terms of perceived risk and perceived trust, with the view to describing teacher’s behavioral intentions to adopt and use e-government services in Greece. Their findings show that compatibility, relative advantage, job relevance, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are fundamental factors in influencing the intentions of teachers in Greece to use e-government services, and that factors such as trust, perceived risk, image, subjective norm and output quality, although included in the model, do not substantially influence the use of e-government services among that group of the population (Zafiropulous et al 2012, p. 539-543).

These findings contradict the results of other studies (e.g., Ismail 2008; Shareef et al 2011, Venkatesh et al 2012) that have found trust, perceived risk, subjective norm and information quality to be significant readiness factors in determining citizens’ adoption and use of e-government services. Overall, such contradiction only serves to demonstrate how there is conflicting use of readiness factors in e-government usage models, and also how there is a dearth of literature integrating both readiness and adoption factors into one usage model.

It also serves to underline the observation by Shareef et al (2011), which insinuates that the adoption models offered so far are primarily conceptual as comprehensive empirical studies among actual users to validate and generalize the models are absent, hence the need to undertake the proposed study which will go a long way in integrating the various citizen readiness factors into one process-based model for usage of e-government services.

Consolidation of Findings to Demonstrate the Research Gap

This section aims to consolidate the findings of the review with other important references to demonstrate the need to undertake a study aimed at addressing the gap in the literature. It is important to underscore the fact that the presenting gap from the reviewed literature is that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services owing to lack of integration of the factors in popular models used to address citizen readiness and usage concerns.

E-government has the capability to make government operations more transparent, accountable and more effective for citizens and business organizations, and to avail a multiplicity of benefits for the community at large, such as promoting inclusive and participatory service delivery, minimizing services’ time and connecting businesses and citizens to government information at any time (Ismail 2008).

However, a UN report has underscored a trajectory demonstrating that citizens’ usage of e-government services, or the demand side of e-government, is yet to achieve parity in growth with the provision of e-government (‘supply-side’) (United Nations 2012). The report underscores the fact that although there is no comprehensive data available to evaluate citizen usages of e-government at the global level owing to the fact that data are not yet systematically collected and uniformly available across countries around the world, a few studies done in selected developing countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa show that the level of citizens’ usage of e-government is generally low, even as it is in most developed countries.

In EU27 countries, according to this particular report, the average usage rate of e-government services among citizens “is 32 per cent, and in OECD countries, the average usage rate in 2010 was only around 40 per cent, not withstanding recent increases in citizen take-up of e-services” (United Nations 2012, p. 102). Using this context of low usage of e-government services, therefore, we aim to undertake a systematic review of the existing literature on citizens’ use of e-government services to prove that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services owing to limitations in the models mostly used by scholars to explain e-government adoption by citizens.

In their study aimed at investigating the critical factors that enable citizens to adopt and use e-government at diverse phases of service maturity, Shareef et al (2011) inferred that while the adoption models offered so far in the academic literature are mainly conceptual, extensive empirical studies among the actual users to validate and generalize the models are absent, and that most of these models of e-government adoption are not grounded on a strong theoretical framework.

Indeed, one of the major findings of their study is that the “technology adoption model (TAM), diffusion innovation theory (DOI), and theory of planned behavior (TPB) cannot capture and specify the complete essence of e-Gov adoption behavior of citizens” (Shareef at al 2011, p. 17).

A fundamental component of citizen-centric e government studies conducted over the years essentially focus on the subsequent adoption of e government services (Khalil 2011). These studies have attempted to predict user’s reception and adoption of technology as an indicator that could be used to understand human behavior with technology, with the view to analyzing how such technology could be increased.

Despite the proliferation of studies using adoption models in e government research such as technology acceptance model (Al-adawi et al 2005), diffusion of innovation (e.g., Rokhman 2011; Zafiropoulos et al 2012), extended technology acceptance model (e.g., Kumar et al 2007; Suki & Ramayah 2010), unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (e.g., Susanto & Goodwin 2010) and user stratification theories (e.g., Lai et al 2011), the issue of citizen readiness to use e-government services is yet to be satisfactorily addressed in the literature owing to the limitations of the available adoption models as outlined by Shareef et al (2011), and also due to the fact that most of these models are insensitive to different use contexts (Salovaara & Tamminen 2009).

It is important to focus on two technology acceptance models to demonstrate that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services owing to limitations in the models used to address citizen readiness and usage concerns. The technology acceptance model (TAM) developed by Davis (1986) and cited comprehensively in Al-Gahtani (2011) is an information systems model that demonstrates how organizational users come to accept and use technology owing to factors such as perceived usefulness and perceived ease-of-use of the technology.

But although this model could be adopted and applied to focus on e-government, it is evident that it predominantly deals with organizational acceptance and usage factors rather than citizen-centric readiness and usage concerns. In the absence of solid research on citizens’ readiness and use of e government services, therefore, governments across the world will continue to experience difficulties in addressing the gap between e government usage and e government availability (United Nations 2012; Rana et al 2012).

The second model is the unified theory of acceptance and use model (UTAUT). This model, which was originally developed by Venkatesh et al (2003) and extensively cited in Venkatesh et al (2012), was also developed within organizational context to explain user intentions to use an information system and subsequent usage behavior as guided by factors such as performance expectancy and effort expectancy.

Even so, it has been noted that nearly all researchers who apply this particular model to e government contexts fail to take into account the fundamental importance of citizen’s readiness in the usage process. Indeed, the framers of the model acknowledge that “an important difference between a consumer use setting and the organization use setting, where UTAUT was developed, is that consumers usually bear the monetary cost of such use whereas employees do not” (Venkatesh et al 2012). These researchers further acknowledge that performance expectancy cannot be the only driver in evaluating consumer technology acceptance and use, hence the need to include other drivers such as hedonic motivation and price value.

By their own admission, Venkatesh and colleagues suggest that hedonic motivation is a more fundamental component than performance expectancy in evaluating technology acceptance and use in non-organizational contexts, further demonstrating that existing models such as TAM and UTAUT may not be comprehensive when applied to consumer use contexts in e government settings (Venkatesh et al 2012).

More importantly, extant knowledge on how the two models can be applied to citizen readiness within e government contexts is highly fragmented and insensitive in nature and scope in spite of the fact that most scholars continue to use TAM and UTAUT to assess citizen’s readiness and adoption of technology within the e government context. As demonstrated by Venkatesh et al (2012), this is a wrong approach due to wide-ranging variations between the organization use context and the consumer (citizen) use context.

An immediate concern for researchers, therefore, is to fill this gap in knowledge by involving themselves with more studies and development of theoretical perspectives that attempt to directly address citizen readiness factors for use of services within e government context. In this context, the present study aims to make a theoretical and empirical contribution to the existing literature on e-government not only by developing a comprehensive process model that could be applied to ensure that citizen’s readiness and adoption factors are fully integrated in e-government usage process with the view to encouraging high usage rate of e-government services, but also by taking into consideration the steps of citizen readiness in the usage process and also providing an explanation on how these factors could lead to successful usage process of e-government in Saudi Arabia.

While most of the mentioned models (e.g., TAM, UTAUT, DOI) employ variance theoretical perspectives that are mostly concerned with explicating the variability of a dependent variable based on its association with one or more independent variables, we infer that a process theoretical perspective would be more appropriate in explaining how citizen’s readiness to use e-government services develops over time by virtue of the fact that process models seek to explicate the occurrence of an outcome (in this case, citizen usages of e-government services) by identifying the sequence of events preceding it (Tsohou et al 2008).

Research Objectives & Questions

In order to provide a better understanding of the complete picture of usage decision of e-government services by citizens, this study proposes to build a comprehensive usage process model of e-government services, which ensures that citizens’ readiness and adoption factors and events are fully integrated into one e-government usage process. It is felt that such a model will assist substantially to achieve the profound objective of e-government initiatives, which “ought to be the frequent and recurring use of online services by citizens not only for obtaining information but also for interacting with the government” (Bwalya 2009, p. 5).

To achieve the objective of building a comprehensive usage process model of e-government services, the proposed study will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. What are the critical factors and events of any usage process in e-government services?
  2. What sequence of citizen readiness and adoption factors as well as events leads to a successful usage process of e-government services by citizens?
  3. What are the conditions and outcomes of each factor and event in e-government services usage process?
  4. How do the identified factors and events of readiness and adoption affect each other in the context of designing and deploying a comprehensive usage process model to explain citizen usages of e-government services in Saudi Arabia and other similar environments?

Conclusion

From the systematic review and ensuing comparison with other sources, there is compelling evidence to demonstrate that little is known about citizens’ readiness factors to use e-government services owing to lack of integration of the known factors in popular models used by scholars to address citizen readiness and usage concerns. Most of the studies reviewed address individual readiness factors and fail to mould the readiness factors into a holistic usage process, especially in terms of how they can practically be used to increase the uptake of e government services from the citizens’ perspective.

Indeed, with a few exception (Ismail 2008; Al-Gahtani 2011; Kaisara & Pather 2011; Shareef et al 2011; Zafiropoulos et al 2012; Rowley 2011; Shin 2013), all the other studies in the reviewed literature make reference to singular or multiple readiness factors but fail to account how these factors influence citizen’s readiness to either adopt or reject the use of e government services. Other studies are ‘supply’ and technology focused and investigate e government development and delivery issues at the expense of citizen usage concerns (Lai et al 2011; Gauld et al 2010, p. 177).

This assessment has identified the major limitations associated with variance-based technology acceptance and usage models, including TAM, UTAUT, TRB, and DOI. For instance, while it is clear that citizens’ intentions to use e-government services should consider the primary TAM constructs theorizing that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use determine actual system use (Al-Gahtani 2011, p. 54), available scholarship demonstrate a lack of studies that explicitly examine citizen demand for and use of e-government as many of the existing studies are ‘supply’ and technology focused (Gauld et al 2010, p. 177).

Indeed, this gap in the literature leads Gauld et al (2010, p. 177) to argue that “much of the writing on e-government and ICT development in general suffers from a technology focus, seemingly forgetting that humans have to use and operate the systems.” Rowley (2011, p. 53) cites prior research studies (e.g., Kolsaker 2004; Reddick 2005; Codagnone & Undheim 2008) in acknowledging a mounting “consensus evaluations need to address the notion of benefit to the citizens, that too much of the existing work on citizen interaction with government takes a supply side perspective, and that there has been insufficient exploration of the fit between supply assumptions and usage drivers.”

Moving further, Gauld et al (2010, p. 177) argue that individuals do not simply adopt technology at it becomes available, but often adopt it in differing and unexpected ways; Reinsalu (2008, p. 272) underlines the gap between readiness and real usage of technology-based services; and Santhanamery and Ramayah (2012, p. 400) argue that many of the existing research studies on the individual adoption of information technology (IT) have focused attention on examining “the intention to use or to adopt an IT, while less attention is paid to the post adoption environment where individuals decide whether to continue or discontinue using an IT.”

An overriding concern underscored by several scholars (e.g., Reinsalu 2008, p. 272; Hung 2012; Santhanamery & Ramayah 2012, p. 400) is that in most cases after the preliminary usage of e-government services many citizens revert to traditional approaches of acquiring information and services, demonstrating that engaging and maintaining citizens for continued usage are a challenge faced by many stakeholders charged with the responsibility of rolling out online public services.”

From the reviewed literature, it is also clear that the “existing models of technology adoption [e.g., TAM, DOI and TPB) cannot in themselves capture and specify the overall essence of e-government behavior of citizens because there are mainly conceptual in nature and scope, hence the need to come up with new ways to validate and generalize the models, particularly in light of integrating “discourses from technical, social, organizational, political, and cultural perspectives to develop their ontological and epistemological paradigms of model validation doctrine (Shareef et al 2011, p. 17).

A pressing concern for scholars, therefore, is to fill this gap in knowledge by involving themselves with more studies and development of theoretical perspectives that attempt to directly address citizen readiness factors for use of services within e government context. In this context, the present study aims to make a theoretical and empirical contribution to the existing literature on e-government not only by developing a comprehensive process model that could be applied to ensure that citizen’s readiness and adoption factors are fully integrated in e-government usage process with the view to encouraging high usage rate of e-government services, but also by taking into consideration the steps of citizen readiness in the usage process and also providing an explanation on how these factors could lead to successful usage process of e-government in Saudi Arabia.

While most of the mentioned models in the reviewed literature employ variance theoretical perspectives that are mostly concerned with explicating the variability of a dependent variable based on its association with one or more independent variables, we infer that a process theoretical perspective would be more appropriate in explaining how citizen’s readiness to use e-government services develops over time by virtue of the fact that process models seek to explicate the occurrence of an outcome (in this case, citizen usages of e-government services) by identifying the sequence of events preceding it (Tsohou et al 2008).

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