Digital Inequality

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The Internet as a service channel in the public sector. A substitute or complement of traditional service channels?

Citation:
Van Deursen, A., & Pieterson, W. (2006). The Internet as a service channel in the public sector. A substitute or complement of traditional service channels? Presented at the ICA 2006, Dresden.

Abstract:
The Internet has been used as a channel for public service delivery since the mid 1990's. During the first years of its existence it was believed to be the service channel of the future, making all other channels obsolete. But until now, the telephone and face-to-face contact remain being used more frequently and are rated higher. By comparing various studies that have recently been conducted in a number of countries,  this paper suggests that the characteristics of the channel make it a suitable channel for basic transactions and simple information provision, and that the telephone and face-to-face contact remain prevalent for at least ambiguous and complex tasks. Therefore the Internet might be a complementary channel rather than a substitute of traditional channels. Research findings are interpreted by means of Media Richness Theory, the Social Influence model and Channel Expansion Theory.