A provoking piece of research from South Korea should get a few of the proponents of e-governance thinking again, although I’d be interested in some root-cause analysis of the conclusions. Professor Im and his colleagues have produced a paper entitled “Internet, Trust in Government and Citizen Compliance” which concludes that increased time spent on the Internet reduces trust in government and lowers the citizen’s compliance with government, in contrast to reading hard copy newspapers. This research opens up the field to much further research as to whether their conclusions result from anti-government information being spread virally? I, also, wonder whether this might be down to the nature of the Internet user in themselves?
The researchers are mainly from the Seoul National University, in South Korea, so that means the conclusions cannot be extended universally without further research. However, a number of potential rationales can be drawn from the research, which may be the influence.
The author, Tobin Im, and one of his students are interviewed on a podcast, discussing their findings, courtesy of Federal News Radio. Personally I see this paper as a further nail in the coffin of the technicist view of e-government, that it is a panacea, silver bullet or cure-all. E-government is just one element of electronic service delivery and like all service delivery can be done well or very, very badly.