Innovating in digital government in the American States

Ramona S. McNeal, Caroline J. Tolbert, Karen Mossberger, Lisa J. Dotterweich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Objective. The purpose of this research is to examine why some states have embraced digital government more extensively than others. Methods. Multivariate regression analysis is used to empirically test explanations for state innovation in e-government. The primary dependent variable is the percent of state-level government websites offering online services to citizens. Results. Republican-controlled legislatures are more likely to embrace e-government, implying that efficiency concerns may drive reliance on digital government. Innovators in e-government were states with fewer households with Internet access and less use of the initiative process, indicating that citizen demand was not a factor. More extensive use of e-government is also associated with legislative professionalization and professional networks - factors that may be useful for explaining the diffusion of other administrative reforms, and technical issues lacking political salience. Conclusions. These data suggest e-government implementation is driven by legislative professionalism and, to a lesser extent, state professional networks, rather than citizen demand. These indicators fit Lowi's (1972) conception of "constituent policy" as a top-down process, confined to administrative or legislative circles, compared to distributive, regulatory, and redistributive policy. We hypothesize that other administrative reforms, particularly those lacking political salience, may exhibit similar relationships with legislative professionalization and professional networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-70
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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