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• discusses the definition and develops a taxonomy of theory by examining theories in IS and social science;
• reviews criticisms of the absence/weakness of theory in e-government research published since 2000;
• considers the role of theory in e-government research from two perspectives: theory imported and native;
• concludes that both types of theory are extensively used in e-government research;
• suggests that grand theories may not be realizable in an interdisciplinary field.
A persistent leitmotif of the e-government literature in the last decade has been a degree of angst about the absence of theory in the field. Some scholars have argued that until such time as this deficiency is remedied, e-government will never be recognized as a proper discipline. In addition to being under-theorized, it is has also been contended that the e-government literature is overdependent on the descriptive case study or case history.This paper examines the validity of the claim that e-government is under-theorized and explores the counter-argument that, far from being short of theory, a great deal of good and valuable theory can be found in the e-government literature. The meaning of theory and problems with defining it are discussed and the implications of these problems for assessing the state of theory in e-government are explored in this light. The parallels between this discussion and problems associated with theory in the wider fields of public administration and information systems are briefly considered. From this it is conjectured that concerns regarding the absence of a coherent body of theoretical knowledge in the field of e-government may be overstated.
Journal: Government Information Quarterly - Volume 32, Issue 1, January 2015, Pages 1–11