The Role of Information Transparency in Citizens’ Intention to Use e-Government
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Governments have been investing billions of dollars in both developing and maintaining e-Government systems. The success of these systems depends on the level of citizens’ use of these systems. However, citizens’ use of e-Government has not reached expectations. According to United Nations’ reports on e-Government throughout the world, citizens often use e-Government at lower levels (e.g. searching for information) rather than higher levels of citizens’ use (e.g. active participation). To ensure the success of the e-Government systems it is important to improve the level of use. Academia has, therefore, been investigating the reasons that affect citizens’ usage of e-Government systems. Apart from the traditional factors such as usefulness and ease of use, information transparency has been shown to have a positive influence on individuals’ beliefs and behaviour in the literature of marketing, management, and adoption of IT/IS. In the government context, information transparency has also been shown to be important to citizens’ beliefs and behaviour in relation to higher use (e.g. participation in policy and decision-making process). For these reasons, information transparency is particularly relevant for encouraging higher levels of e-Government use, such as participation in the policy and decision-making process. The term ‘information transparency’ as used in the context of this study refers to the government making information about data, process and policy both open and visible, and disclosing that to its citizens. There are three aspects to information transparency: data transparency, process transparency and policy transparency. Data transparency refers to the data and figures of government; process transparency refers to steps in the processes, and policy transparency refers to the rationale for making final decisions and policies. Citizens have high expectations for information transparency from government and how transparent this information is perceived to be can affect the use of e-Government. To date, the literature has yet to highlight the factors that impact on information transparency in a computer-mediated environment, and to what extent the perception of information transparency impacts and facilitates citizens’ intention to use e-Government. To bridge these gaps in the literature, this study integrates DeLone and McLean’s Information System Success Model with the fundamental concepts of information transparency, to investigate the antecedents of information transparency and its effect on levels of citizens’ intention to use e-Government. E-Government uses in this study include three levels: passive use which includes searching for general information and search for policy and decision information; active use which includes communication and transactions; and participatory use which includes consultation and active participation in the policy and decision-making process. In order to test the research model, a survey was conducted with New Zealand citizens who have used e-Government. A total of 234 usable responses were collected. SmartPLS was used to examine the data and test the research model and hypotheses. The results identified that information quality and service quality positively enhance information transparency but that system quality was not significant. These three antecedents together explained 0.498 of the variance observed in information transparency. On the other hand, information quality, system quality and service quality all have a significant impact on satisfaction. They explained 0.543 of the variance observed in satisfaction. The results also demonstrate that information transparency plays a significant role in determining participatory use intention but is not significant for lower level use intentions toward e-Government use (i.e. active and passive use). Satisfaction has a significant impact on both active use and participatory use intentions. These results have significant theoretical and practical implications. In terms of theoretical contributions, this study provides a conceptual model of the role of information transparency in citizens’ intention to use e-Government. As this study is the first to provide empirical evidence on predictors of information transparency in a computer-mediated environment, the results provide an understanding of transparency that can then be applied in interdisciplinary literature. The study also contributes to the information system post-adoption literature and, specifically, e-Government post-adoption literature. To encourage citizens’ higher levels of e-Government use, the results identify satisfaction and information transparency as particularly important. In order to improve further citizens’ perceptions of transparency and hence their uses, governments should focus not only on publishing information (e.g. disclosing the facts and figures of government, and information about its operations and decision-making) but also on improving the quality of the information provided and the services that support the e-Government. By doing this, the government will be able to encourage the citizens’ use of e-Government services that are offered, and ensure the success of such systems.