Accounting for the contexts of government service transformation: The case of building approvals in Singapore

Nick Letch, J. Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to extend the perspective provided by stage models and examine the wider contexts in which government service transformation occurs. Traditional stage models of e-government have been criticised as being too narrowly focussed suggesting that government services are transformed by information and communications technology (ICT) in a linear manner. Design/methodology/approach – Government service transformation involves the interplay of a multitude of social and technical factors over time. We propose that an appreciation of the wider institutional, political and economic contexts is necessary and develop a framework of government service transformation in terms of the locus of context and focus of the change initiative. This framework is illustrated with reference to a case study of the transformation of the building approvals process in Singapore over two decades. Findings – Application of the framework to the case study illustrates that government service transformation is not a linear progression and is influenced by decisions and factors related to both inner and outer contexts. Research limitations/implications – While bringing institutional theory to extend analyses of service transformation, the reconstruction of events in the case study presented does not provide a rich enough data set for a full analysis of the institutional forces at play. Practical implications – Managers of e-government initiatives can use the dimensions of the framework to assess their progress, as new technologies emerge and policy priorities change. Originality/value – The framework presented in the paper provides a complement to existing models for examining e-government transformation and brings a theoretically based perspective to government service transformation which is lacking in existing stage models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-369
JournalTransforming Government: People, Process and Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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