Information Technology Reference
Evaluations show that the implementation of e-government systems lags behind
policy ambitions and the rhetoric of reform. E-government systems are difficult to
monitor and prevent from failure. Managers try to streamline processes and data
and search for consensus and aim to progress information streams in or between
governments. They nevertheless face multiple challenges on the way toward suc-
cessful systems (Rana, Dwivedi, & Williams, 2013). Technology evolves quickly,
whereas implementation takes time. Goals, workflows, and data definitions of back
offices do not necessarily overlap. Implementing e-government systems might shift
power balances and may therefore be sabotaged (Homburg & Bekkers, 2002).
What distinguishes information systems (IS) failure from other failures in the pub-
lic sector is its overwhelming ubiquity (Goldfinch, 2007).
When trying to research public sector IS failure, several problems pop up.
First, a common definition of failure is lacking. Assessing the success/failure of
e-government initiatives is a challenge, as the definition of outcomes is ambiguous.
Success or failure is a question of judgment, representing different viewpoints of
groups in (an) organization(s) (Elbanna & Linderoth, 2013). These judgments can
change over time (Goldfinch, 2007). In the context of IS, failure can be defined as
an implemented system not meeting user expectations (Dwivedi et al., 2014). In
particular, we consider success and failure as the level to which system acceptance,
usage, and experienced benefits meet or do not meet the expectations that moti-
vated the development or acquisition of the software.
Second, it is difficult to define what exactly e-government is; there is no standard
definition (Yildiz, 2007). E-government can be seen as an application of Internet
in the government, as a goal in itself, as a tool for achieving public sector reform
goals, or as an application of information and communication technology in the
public sector to make the government work better (Heeks, in Yildiz, 2007). We
share the latter view. This refers not only to the information and communication
technology that an organization uses but also to the way people interact with it in
support of business processes (Beynon-Davies, 2009). E-government research may
be divided into four main domains: government to citizen (G2C), government to
employee, government to business (G2B), and government to government (G2G)
(Floropoulos, Spathis, Halvatzis, & Tsipouridou, 2010). Three additional domains
could be added: government to civil societal organizations, citizen to government,
and citizen to citizen (Yildiz, 2007).
Third, digital information sharing between governmental organizations remains
elusive: Little is known about when and how efforts are likely to be successful (Chen,
2008). So far, the complex nature of challenges is not well understood, either in
practice or in theory (Goldfinch, 2007; Scholl & Klishewski, 2007). Researchers
into IS failure should devote more attention to the public sector (Dwivedi et al.,
2014). To ensure success, more research is required to develop methods to assess
and act upon failure. In e-government research, no standard methods to do so exist
(Makedon, Sudborough, Pantziou, & Conalis-Kontos, 2003).