The role of social media in U.S. county governments: The strategic value of operational aimlessness

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© 2015, IGI Global. This study investigates the influence of citizens' socio-economic characteristics on the presence of social media in county-level government. E-government is ostensibly citizen-driven and therefore variation in an area's demographics would likely impact a government's utilization of emerging technology, such as social media. Despite its transformative potential and widespread adoption, e-government development beyond basic stages has been sluggish. Social media is transforming the nature of interaction among individuals and organizations and has the potential to overcome some of the restrictive challenges of e-government. Understanding if, how, and to what end governments are harnessing social media will help make e-government a citizen-driven, democratic, transparent, and trustworthy platform. County governments are challenged by their size, resource scarcity, heterogeneous service area (urban and rural), and varying population density; thereby preventing them from gaining a critical mass of online users. By exploring social media's role in e-government as related to citizen demographic factors, this study reveals an important paradoxical role of social media in government: operational ineffectiveness as a necessary precursor for exception events. Additional results reveal the presence of digital divide - counties with higher median household income and educational qualification tend to have social media presence in their e-government sites, which is also not related to population growth of the counties.

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International Journal of Electronic Government Research

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