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Politics of E-Government: E-Government and the Political Control of Bureaucracy


Michael J. Ahn is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, where he teaches and conducts research in information technology in the public sector, e-government, public organization, performance management, and international comparative public administration. Dr. Ahn received his PhD in Public Administration from Syracuse University in 2007.

Stuart Bretschneider is associate dean and chair of the Department of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He also holds one of the University's Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorships for Teaching Excellence. His research focuses on how public organizations make use of information technology and the effects of those technologies on public organizations; how public organizations employ forecasting technology and organize to carry out forecasting activities; and how sector differences affect administrative processes. He was managing editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory from 1992 to 2000. Dr. Bretschneider received his PhD in Public Administration from the Ohio State University in 1980.


This case study reports an innovative e-government experiment by a local government in Seoul, South Korea—Gangnam-gu. A new local political leadership in Gangnam made strategic use of e-government applications to exert greater political control over the local civil service bureaucracy. The authors find that e-government applications possess political properties that can be applied effectively by the political leadership as instruments to improve control over the government bureaucracy as well as to enhance essential government accountability and transparency. The political circumstances underlying e-government development as well as its impact on local government are reported, along with key variables associated with this innovation and directions for future research.