An investigation of the impact factors to increase citizens' engagement in e-participation on e-government in Saudi Arabia

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The growing use of web technologies has significantly influenced how governments work and provide services to citizens. Electronic government (e-government) has been one of the major developments in recent years in both developing and developed countries. The main objective of e-government is not limited to access information but also to create new ways to improve processes, integrate government services and increase interaction with citizens. One of these ways is electronic participation (e-participation), which offers citizens a two-way communication between them and the government. E-participation, a subset of e-government, has become a common phenomenon in the governments, which are serious about using the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for strengthening the government-citizen relationship, such as the use of social networking services, online polls, discussion forum and blogs etc. Unlike traditional methods of communication between citizens and governments, e-participation activities on e-government websites enhance communication and enable citizens to become actively involved in the policy-making process. While there are many researches conducted in the field of e-government, most of these researches investigate the adoption/usage of e-government. However, previous studies failed to investigate citizens’ intention to engage in e-participation activities. The purpose of this research is to investigate the key factors that influence on citizens’ intention to engage in e-participation activities on e-government websites in Saudi Arabia. Based on literature review a conceptual model for e-participation on e-government websites proposed. Data was collected from Saudi citizens to find out their perceptions towards e-participation. Following this aim, this research answers the following main question: What are the key factors that influence on citizens’ intention to engage in E-participation on E-government websites in Saudi Arabia? In order to answer the research question, a mixed-method research approach is employed in this study, which incorporated both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. First, a quantitative approach was applied to empirically test the relationship among the constructs of the proposed model. An online survey instrument is used as the method of data collection from Saudi Arabia citizens. A sample of 770 responses was used for data analysis. The data was analyzed using a structural equation modelling(SEM) statistical techniques using AMOS 22.0 to estimate the relationships between the different factors in the research model. Secondly, a qualitative study (a focus group discussion) was used to validate the survey results and provide more insights into the relationships identified. The participants in the focus groups were also the Saudi citizens. One focus group discussion, which consisted of eight participants, was conducted in this study. The participants’ responses throughout the discussion were recorded and transcribed for analysis. The quantitative results show that the proposed model is strongly supported by the data. The results of the focus group revealed the various factors influencing in citizens’ intentions to engage in e-participation, thus supporting the hypotheses and consistent with the quantitative results. The analysis of both the survey and focus group discussion results confirmed that trust, attitude, web design and subjective norms strongly influence citizens’ intention to engage in e-participation activities on e-government websites. This study contributes to the knowledge by providing an important insight and a better understanding of citizens’ intention to engage in e-participation activities on e-government websites in Saudi Arabia. The findings of this study will assist Saudi local government leaders and managers to better understand the major issues facing e-participation and enable analysis of the extent to which citizens’ online inputs reflect community-wide interests.
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