A social system for sustainable local e-government
Most studies in electronic government (e-government) sustainability focus on the role of specific actors (stakeholders such as government employees or citizens) in sustaining an e-government project. However, such actors may not have sufficient resources to support e-government sustainability by themselves and must collaborate across different departments and stakeholders to sustain e-government projects. This paper aims to take a social systems theory perspective on sustainable local e-government, where actors cooperate and coordinate in a social system to leverage resources for e-government sustainability in local government contexts in developing countries.Design/methodology/approachThis paper is an interpretive study of two local e-government case studies based on in-depth interviews with local government information technology (IT) managers, local leaders and staff. Data analysis based on constructivist grounded theory is used to understand the role of a social system in sustaining e-government systems in local governments in developing countries.FindingsThe original social system theory was developed for industry initiatives and adapted for public organisations in this paper. The unique characteristics of the public sector and e-government innovation are used to identify new components of the social system related to local e-government. Local e-government is sustained through a collaboration between actors in a social system to leverage resources and reduce challenges.Research limitations/implicationsWhile this is an exploratory study, the cases show that the use of a social system theory consisting of institutional, management, social and economic components requires multiple lenses for investigation. This is a challenging process because it requires different areas of knowledge to carry out the research. The challenges may influence the overall outcome of this study. In addition, the two cases may generate limited insight and experiences as this study was carried out within two local governments in Indonesia. The findings may not provide a strong basis for generalization to other contexts.Practical implicationsThis study offers guidance to local government IT departments to improve collaboration in a social system between local actors (such as political, managers and staff) while implementing and using e-government systems.Social implicationsSustainable local e-government requires all actors to coordinate and cooperate in a social system to reduce financial, political and technical challenges.Originality/valueThis paper offers new insight into how a local government collaborates in a social system to realize sustainable e-government systems. Collaborating in a social system reduces common challenges and leverages resources to support e-government sustainability.