Towards E-participation in the Middle East and Northern Europe
Work data:ISBN: 978-1-4419-6536-3
Type of work: Book Chapter
Categories:e-Democracy | e-Government | Information Society | Policy & Regulation
E-governance is important for enabling governments to communicate with and serve their citizens. In this chapter, we determine critical success factors for and obstacles to effective e-governance in two very different regions of the world, namely the Middle East and Northern Europe. Specifically, we explore e-participation in Bahrain, Egypt, Estonia and Finland. These four countries are interesting cases because they have quite different types of government, yet according to recent United Nations data, each has succeeded in their development of e-government capabilities. However, the degree to which this development has translated into effective e-participation varies significantly between these countries. We propose a framework for assessing the strategy, policies and context within which e-governance is being developed and apply this framework to examine e-participation in each country. Using this framework, we show that an administrative culture of high-quality governance is critical to the success of e-participation initiatives. Our research also suggests that factors which promote online citizen participation in the political process include a government commitment to e-government, policies that encourage e-participation, and investment in e-governance and ICT development. Sometimes these conditions are satisfied but e-participation falls short of expectations. We present evidence that this short-fall often reflects problems in the offline relationship between governments and their citizens.