Models of E-Government: Are They Correct? An Empirical Assessment


David Coursey is a visiting scholar at Arizona State University’s Decision Theater ( He specializes in public management, information technology, and research methods. Most of his recent work is in public service motivation, measurement models and theory, and e-government.

Donald F. Norris is chair and professor in the Department of Public Policy and director of the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is a specialist in public management, urban affairs, and the application, uses, and impacts of information technology (including electronic government) in public organizations. His works have been published in a number of scholarly journals.


Research into e-government is relatively new. Nevertheless, much contemporary thinking and writing about e-government is driven by normative models that appeared less than a decade ago. The authors present empirical evidence from three surveys of local e-government in the United States to test whether these models are accurate or useful for understanding the actual development of e-government. They find that local e-government is mainly informational, with a few transactions but virtually no indication of the high-level functions predicted in the models. Thus, the models do not accurately describe or predict the development of e-government, at least among American local governments. These models, though intellectually interesting, are purely speculative, having been developed without linkage to the literature about information technology and government. The authors offer grounded observations about e-government that will useful to scholars and practitioners alike.