AuthorNica, Elvira
  1. Introduction

    In the present paper, we focus on the implementation of social media into government administration, active e-participation models in local governance, and the challenges of e-government development at the local level. The purpose of this article is to gain a deeper understanding of the engagement of social media to promote citizen dialogue and government transparency (Machan, 2013), the factors that influence citizens to engage in e-participation, and the current state of e-government at the local level. The material gathered in this study provides a rich and diverse context for understanding challenges in managing social media across government organizations (Zaharia et al., 2013), the democratic potential of e-government, and the potential of social media to contribute to civic engagement. We are specifically interested in how previous research investigated the integration of social media tools in core government operations, the use of social media technology in government, and the provision of mechanisms for citizen online participation in government.

  2. E-government as a means of fostering citizen participation

    Local e-government leaders should make a commitment to management for results and performance (Brata and Lagendijk, 2013), and then to managing them, and should reward the accomplishments of teams and individuals that contribute to improving e-government performance management practices. E-government development in local government aims to improve service quality by focusing on customers (e-government may substantially improve public service delivery to individual citizens) (Kim, 2009). Digital governance includes both delivery of public services and citizen participation in governance. Strong administrative support is important to e-governance performance, e-governance may evolve from posting information online to utilization of websites for online citizen participation, and informational content is the initial stage in all forms of e-government adoption. Government websites require users to submit their personal information apart and make use of tracking tools and cookies: websites should provide relevant and sufficient informational content to citizen users, and have privacy policies on every page that requires data in order to gain citizens' trust (Carrizales et al., 2011). Citizens demand better services and thus information technology implementation in local government organizations (Tomescu and Agatador Popescu, 2013) needs to accommodate them; a central government can impose the adoption of e-government on local government bodies by indicating certain policies and regulations, and local governments can implement positive values from other successful local e-governments adoption in their environment. Lack of mission and vision in e-government implementation may create disorientation of the project (problematic goals in e-government implementation can hardly determine a strategy on how to implement effective e-government systems) (Nurdin, Stockdale, and Scheepers, 2011).

    Local government employees should perceive e-government performance in terms of improved service quality (Hunter, 2013a), transparency, and cost-efficiency. Inspirational motivation and the level of organizational commitment among the executive e-government leaders' employees are important factors in the implementation of e-government innovations. Employees who think reward systems are fair tend to express a positive impact of e-government development on cost-efficiency. The level to which an e-government program is managed for results substantially affects employees' perceptions of e-government performance. Elective executive leadership, management capacity, and management for results may influence employee perceptions of local e-government performance (Kim, 2009). Government agencies use different web technologies to offer various forms of electronic participation applications, the web-based e-participation program is an important tool for e-government to facilitate citizen participation, and e-participation is a special type of e-government service, relying on web-based applications as a technological platform (the use of e-participation is a technology adoption by citizens). Citizens tend to use e-participation to engage in policy decision-making processes (citizen-initiated e-participation may require citizens' commitment to participation in public affairs). The online community is one feature of citizen-initiated e-participation, 'ground-up' e-participation focuses on participation established by citizens, and trust in government influences citizens to engage in citizen-initiated e-participation (through ongoing and repeated interactions, e-participants can build online networks) (Lee and Kim, 2014).

    At the aggregate level, e-government has incorporated more technological and organizational sophistication: national governments should have both financial resources and technical expertise to move systematically toward more sophisticated stages of e-government. E-government initiatives tend to evolve from the national to the local level: the system of rules moves from a solution-oriented goal to a behavior-control-oriented goal (systems of rules may affect the evolution of e-government). Specific contexts and the capabilities and resources of certain stakeholders may affect e-government evolution, the degree of responsiveness and accountability should be greater in local governments, and the development of clear dynamic indicators for the evaluation of e-government initiatives is necessary (Gil-Garcia and Martinez-Moyano, 2007). E-government may assist in the transformation of governance through service delivery and more informed and engaged citizenship. E-government use influences resources for participation, but depends upon motivation, and is associated with civic engagement and political participation. The use of government websites may stimulate knowledge and discussion of public issues (Profiroiu, Tapardel and Mihaescu, 2013): information about policy issues and community affairs may promote discussion and mobilization, and may act as a component in promoting civic engagement. There is an association between e-government use and civic engagement that may be supported by the online information and communication opportunities: citizens who are interested and informed tend to use digital government to support their civic engagement (the information capacity of e-government may influence the possibilities for government interaction with citizens) (Haller, Li and Mossberger, 2011).

  3. The impact that social networking applications have on e-government

    Local government authorities should create a transaction-enabled citizen-centered e-government (Ionescu, 2013), they should use an e-government strategy with well defined objectives, and local councils should focus their e-government initiatives on providing information and services to the citizens. Putting the traditional government structures online does not generally meet citizens' expectations. Connected e-government may affect organizational structures, policies, and employees. Management and leadership can influence the fulfillment of e-government promises (Fan, 2011). The usability and accessibility of websites are critical in the provision of online government services. Government website design may combine content and services in anticipation of the needs of citizens (the usefulness of a website is dependent on its content). Website usability may enable channels of communication and improve the relationship between government and citizens (Carrizales et al., 2011). The presence of bureaucratic organizations in the public sector (Pera, 2013a) may influence the process of implementing an innovation: the organizational dimensions and the factors in each dimension may impede the adoption and implementation of local e-government (adoption and implementation of e-government at local levels involve many organizational constraints) (Nurdin, Stockdale and Scheepers, 2011).

    E-participation is a communication channel in which e-participants express themselves, and plays as an online community, limiting the ability of both government and e-participants to interact with each other interpersonally (e-participants are active when they post more ideas and comments to others). Weak offline ties are positively associated with active e-participation (weak social ties are an incentive to use e-participation actively). People who do not actively engage in real life and have few social ties are more active online or e-participate (Inglehart et al., 2014; Manolache, 2013). Strength of social ties is not relevantly correlated to active e-participation (de Beaufort and Summers, 2014; Dowell and Larwin, 2013). Active e-participation enables e-participants to build strong online ties, and may help at building online social networks as a complementary means for mobilizing resources...

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