Who Are the Users of Digital Public Services? A Critical reflection on Differences in the Treatment of Citizens as 'Users' in e-government Research
Distel B, Lindgren I
Despite the importance of citizens as users of digital public services,e-government research has not explicitly considered different perspectives oncitizens as users of said services. This paper sets out to explore the possiblevariations in which the citizen as a user of digital public services is conceptualizedwithin the e-government literature. Through a qualitative and interpretiveapproach, we have analysed literature from different fields of e-governmentresearch to create an overview of how citizens as users of digital public servicesare conceptualized in e-government research. The structure of the review departsfrom, and is framed by, four established value paradigms for e-governmentmanagement. Our approach reveals that - depending on the perspective taken -the conceptualization of the citizen varies considerably and, as a consequence,may impact the results and contributions of each research perspective. Theconception of the citizen as a user of digital public services varies from being apassive recipient of government services, to being an active co-producer ofservices. This article contributes to e-government theory by unboxing the conceptionsof citizens as users of digital public services that are existent in currentresearch on digital public services. In providing a framework that relates theseconceptions to previously known value paradigms, the article offers a startingpoint for taking a multidimensional perspective in e-government research thatconsiders the citizen as a multifaceted and heterogeneous entity.
e-government; citizen; user