By Teresa Crompton
Fang Zhao, Associate Professor in the Department of Management, SBM, who was awarded a Faculty Research (Travel) Grant for 2012-2013, discusses her research on e-government.
How did the FRG3 award help you?
Without this award, I would not have conducted and completed this project. The award was essential in financing my visit to Australia to work together with my co-investigator, Professor Mohini Singh of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, to collect primary data. The international collaboration between AUS and RMIT has led to further research opportunities
Why study e-government?
E-government has developed rapidly around the world over the past decade and is gaining momentum in many countries. However, there is little empirical research that has been published about how cultural values impact e-government adoption. The purpose of my study was to investigate how and why culture affect citizens’ uptake of e-government.
What did the research involve?
To achieve the objectives, we conducted a comparative study of two countries - Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Australia is a multicultural nation with people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Like Australia, the UAE is populated with residents from a diverse cultural background, with Emiratis comprising 16 percent of its population only. However, unlike Australia, in which Western culture dominates, UAE boasts mainly Arab culture. The cultural diversity and differences of the two countries are an important and rich field. For example, many indigenous peoples in Australia and many expatriates in the UAE can have different cultural values from non-indigenous and non-Muslim groups.
How much work have you achieved so far?
We have completed:
· A total of 40 semi-structured interviews in UAE and Australia
· A quantitative survey both online and in paper format in the UAE and Australia, which resulted in 289 valid responses/returns
· Qualitative analysis of interviews and statistical analysis of survey data
What are your key findings?
There are mainly three:
· The five cultural dimensions (i.e. In-Group Collectivism, Future Orientation, Performance Orientation, Power Distance, and Uncertainty Avoidance) account collectively for about 44 per cent of variation (R² = .444) in e-government adoption. The result confirms that culture does have a significant impact on e-government adoption.
· There is a significant negative correlation between in-group collectivism and e-government adoption.
· Future orientation is positively correlated to e-government participation at a significant level.
How do you see this research developing?
Building on this project, I have extended the research to China and Brazil. These countries have witnessed rapid economic, political and social changes over the past decade, becoming two of the world’s most important emerging economies. The inclusion of the two countries into the current study of the UAE and Australia would help build a stronger empirical case in exploring the impact of culture on e-government diffusion. It is anticipated that the completion of this larger project will generate more rigorous and in-depth research findings which will lead to more quality publications and contributions to the modernization of government services and improvement of the relationships between governments and citizens.
What impact will the research have?
The project contributes to a better understanding of how culture affects e-government development. As culture can affect the needs, values and expectations of people in embracing e-government, governments and policy-makers should design their e-government development strategy in line with culture.
Any publications in the pipeline?
In collaboration with my co-authors, I am working on an article titled“Does Culture Matter in E-Government Diffusion?: A Cross-Country Comparative Study of Australia, Brazil, China and UAE.” We intend to submit it to one of the top ranked journals in the study field upon completion.
Teresa Compton is a Grants Writer at the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at American University of Sharjah.