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Socio-Technical Approaches to E-Government Systems


Information and communication technologies can transform how governments conduct their businesses. E-government generally is the application of ICT for public administration and development (Guida & Crow, 2009). It aims to make public development more democratic, transparent, and efficient for all. Due to this purpose and other reasons, an increasing number of approaches in e-government systems development have been introduced in link with skills for the developers. Besides, e-government systems combine both social and technical aspects. A social-technical or hybrid system that combines people and IT (Heeks, 2005). It can be a hard system in process and technology factors or a soft system in people and organizations. This paper examines the contrast and comparisons of social-technical approaches for developing the e-government systems process in link with the skills required for developers. It discusses the pivotal concept to follow in the public sector about the private sector.

Heek (2002) recommends a social–technical approach developed from system ideas to contextual e-government solutions in processes, skills, and IT that works as a collective responsibility for success. In order to access or conduct implementation activities to introduce e-government systems, it is pivotal to use social aspects that include social dynamics, such as control systems and beliefs, since e-government solutions are embedded in such structures. Besides, the social-technical approach process assessment should be harmonized more technically to comprehend the potential technology presents (Guida & Crow, 2009).

Besides, identifying the e-government process is a social activity that recognizes complex environmental and human factors in the e-government realm yet needs to be recognized in parameters and policies (Cadle & Yeates, 2004). However, techno-managerial aspects in the hybrid approach for e-government basic project parameter outline policy suggestions are supported by ICT for solutions and goals, according to Heek (2002). They assess whether or not to proceed with the project. The approach’s key factors lie in dividing responsibilities between central and local. Ultimately, politics, values, and resources determine the management of e-government (Heek, 2005).

Before introducing e-government systems, it is paramount to understand the diversity of e-government projects (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). To design e-government, therefore, the hybrid concept is the best pivotal tool for success. This is because it encompasses the hard and soft elements. Heek (2005) names those elements as ITPOSMO dimensions. These dimensions include information, technology, process objectives and values management structures and systems, and other resources like time and financial resources.

In the same vein, using hard concepts in the analysis process is pivotal since they are easy and simple to utilize while reflecting the technical backgrounds of the designers (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). Heek (2002) attests that the hard approach reflects the ‘e’ in e-government in participating in public issues that concerns all citizens. They address issues through general controls affecting all e-government information systems related to individuals. On the other hand, Avison and Fitzgerald (2003) admonish that the use of a hard approach fails since it ignores soft human factors, which have been known to play a critical role in government projects.

Further, the aspect of change also determines the output of the overall e-governments systems information processes (Cadle & Yeates, 2004). According to the two authors, introducing an e-government information system initiative accounts for the practice of working realignments and functions of government. Besides, since it is pivotal for the government sector to re-engineer its process towards culture and new technology adoption for e-government, this can be a challenge resulting in reluctant shareholders’ political conflicts in sharing information (Heek, 2005). In theory, a hybrid approach in e-government information systems can help to contend with power struggles, politics, and conflicts to deal with the resistance using change management initiatives, according to Avison and Fitzgerald (2003).

The success of e-government also depends on skill level, motivation, beliefs, resources, or its constructs, according to Heeks (2002). Therefore, lack of knowledge, new skills, and change management efforts in e-government information systems development will doubtlessly affect the failure rate (Cadle & Yeates, 2004). As a result, the technology and social context gap are widened. The technical approach establishes the development of technology in collaboration with the local staff, according to Heeks (2002). Also, involving people or organizations in the social context establishes the service and information needed to serve the larger community. However, a successful hybrid approach may be the most accurate to link skills level, motivation, and e-government constructs toward the freedom to meet users’ needs through overcoming IT usage while developing e-government systems (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003).

In addition, Korac-Boisvert and Kouzmin (1995) mention that in using ICT for organizations or public administration in introducing e-government information systems, it is paramount to be careful with data. The quality of data determines the overall service of the implementation process. As Avison and Fitzgerald (2003) attest, data quality is an e-government information system key factor of consideration. To understand the data quality, Heeks (2005) uses ”CARTA” indicators to define. According to Heeks, these indicators are competent, accurate, relevant, timeless, and appropriate while presenting.

Inaccurate data leads to difficulties in the process of making decisions and spoil the existing functions. As Heek (2002) mentions, tasks are accomplished without delay where there is accurate information, cost-effectiveness, justice and legal protection, and confidentially. The quality of data can typically be addressed through controls that affect either e-government systems or privately –owned e-government information systems, according to Korac-Boisvert and Kouzmin (1995).

Data in an e-government information system is, therefore, pivotal to the functioning of the public sector. In theory, the quality of public data problems while introducing e-government information systems using a hard approach are fairly easy since they are technology-based (Heeks, 2002). The social approach, on the other hand, in the process of implementing e-government initiatives, is more difficult to provide monitoring and evaluation besides addressing fundamental issues of human motivations and perceptions, according to Heeks (2005).

Besides, human and technical sides are more efficient in administration integrations towards developing accountable, transparent governmental and privately owned e-government information systems (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). However, the hybrid approach, which combines both soft (human) and hard (technical) facets, is more operational in the e-government implementation process. It unites e-government, avoiding any challenge that may rise between the IT division’s staff and the other public officials in the mainstream (Heeks, 2005).

Training users to use new systems and take necessary system maintenance through leadership and politics to manage e-government information systems (Cadle & Yeates, 2004). Management in this context involves introducing new systems and exercising control (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). In this regard, technology plays a significant role in e-government systems in creating quality, professional, and cooperation skills. A hybrid approach in this context introduces the e-government process and the skills of developers through philosophy, organizational level, stakeholders, and sectors and change extent in technical aspects, also known as ‘’POSSET’’ aspects (Heeks, 2005).

Governments worldwide are widely investigating the most appropriate approach to implementing e-government information systems to adverse its services to citizens while reducing costs. The hybrid approach has been perceived as the most appropriate way for governments to revote public and private sectors on their operational activities to serve their clients effectively (Heeks, 2005). The procedure of margining different computational knowledge using hybrid systems enables the assembly of a solitary for progressive prominence, according to Avison and Fitzgerald (2003). In private sectors, the execution files of the hybrid mixtures model have ended up being plausible when utilized alone in the individual segments, as the author mentions.

A hybrid approach is not a single entity, according to Avison and Fitzgerald (2003).besides, hybridization is a method of planning knowledge and skills for development for either current or future staff work as a collective responsibility. Heeks (2002) mentions that hybrid approach means a greater focus on the agent change in e-government either in public or private sectors, who may have been created more easily from the staffing of the main strain rather than IT professionals existing.

Public sectors are more integrated with IT to preserve pivotal services for citizens in developing e-government information systems. Besides, the hybrid approach provides new profiles for IT professionals to increase public administration systems productivity, making the process easier, responsive, transparent, and operational (Heeks, 2002). Through the analysis of this trend, a vision of a new world paradigm is described toward existence and development (Heek, 2002).In the same vein, private sector or non-governmental organizations’ management in a hybrid approach enabled continuous process towards keeping the sector effectively matching with the environment and tuned to the sounding forces inside and outside the organization (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003).

In addition, a hybrid approach, which combines hard and soft components, will work in a more diverse scope of public area setting compared to a categorically soft or entirely harsh methodology, according to Heeks (2005). This is because the hybrid government innovativeness of the human parts framework is centralized to provide services and public goods compared to private sectors whose products provide only services for profit.

Hybrid approach bridges centralized and decentralized formulations to attain new e-government leadership requirements. In the centralized approach, decisions are taken from the most senior level, while decentralized approach, decisions are taken from individual staff, at a lower level than the most senior (Cadle & Yeates, 2004). Besides, these approaches can provide significant inputs for public organizations in e-government management. Similarly, according to Heeks (2005), they can produce disadvantages in firms. This is due to the fact that public sector management entails controlling the interest of citizens in a nation. In contrast, the private sector entails the narrower needs of a group or an individual.

Further, following the customization of generic national priorities and requirements, the hybrid approach brings new competency that ensures extensive collaboration in feedback and iterations towards developing e-government information systems in public sectors (Heeks, 2002).The process of involving all levels of stakeholders while developing e-government information systems is a key factor that significantly separates problems and solutions into a big picture. In the same vein, compared to private sectors, most have governments as their clients; in this context, they may face constraints. Cadle and Yeates (2004) mention that a publicness degree is a variable while bringing new competencies where the private sector needs more decision control in a hybrid approach.


Before introducing an e-government system, gathering information on the current situation’s reality is paramount. The large picture of these realities can be enabled by a mixture of hard and soft techniques which examines the analysis of context, people, and problem. Besides, to attain success, the cycle of stages in which the e-government information system is formed comes from ”hybrid thinking’ ’rather than adherence to a particular approach or methodology. The performance of these systems is a private sector tool in public enrolment. Thus, the e-government information system is a public value tool where the hybrid, more behavioral approach attempts to combine both private and public sector values.


Avison, D., & Fitzgerald, G. (2003). Information systems development: methodologies, techniques and tools. McGraw-Hill.

Cadle, J., & Yeates, D. (Eds.). (2004). Project management for information systems. Pearson education.

Guida, J., & Crow, M. (2009). E-government and e-governance. ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development, 283-320.

Heeks, R. (2005). Implementing and managing eGovernment. Implementing and Managing eGovernment, 1-304.

Heeks, R. (2002). Information systems and developing countries: Failure, success, and local improvisations. The information society18(2), 101-112.

Korac-Boisvert, N., & Kouzmin, A. (1995). Transcending soft-core IT disasters in public sector organizations. Information Infrastructure and Policy4, 131-162.


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