Poster Paper: The Influence of Social Media in Government On Citizen Trust in Government

Friday, November 8, 2013
West End Ballroom A (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Changsoo Song, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Jooho Lee, University of Nebraska
Scholars in public management and e-government have attempted to uncover the relationship between citizens’ use of electronic government (e-government), citizen satisfaction with e-government services, and citizen trust in government, and their findings have been mixed. Some empirical studies relied on early 2000 survey data to examine citizens’ assessment of e-government at the early stage of its development; e-government services in these studies were information and simple transaction services enabled by web 1.0 technology. Considering the rapid development of e-government since then, it is worthwhile to investigate citizen trust model of e-government using more recent data.

In addition, social media (e.g. Facebook, Blog, Twitter, etc.) has been rapidly diffused among citizens and firms, and government agencies have increasingly adopted social media to provide complementary communication and participation channels for citizens to access government and government officials effectively and to make informed decisions; that is, new types of citizen-government interaction have emerged, utilizing social media. Scholars and practitioners in public policy and administration have paid considerable attention to the potential of social media to contribute to increasing citizen trust in government. In fact, social media in government has been framed to bring up increased transparency and interactivity between citizens and governments through enhanced civic engagement in government affairs. In turn, increased transparency and interactivity has been theorized to promote different types of trust in government; for example, they may increase fiduciary trust, mutual trust, and/or social trust in government; or they may increase characteristics-based trust, process-based trust, and/or institution-based trust in government.

Based on these theoretical underpinnings along with social capital theory and civic engagement literature, we extend prior citizen trust model of e-government by integrating social media in government into the model. This extended model helps us better understand how citizens’ trust in government is associated with their use of and satisfaction with e-government including both information/transaction services using Web 1.0 applications and social media services using Web 2.0 ones. Methodologically, partial least square structural equation modeling is designed to test study hypotheses, taking into consideration the characteristics of the constructs employed in the model and the characteristics of the data collected by the Pew Research Center through 2009 national e-government survey.

Preliminary analysis results reveal that citizens’ use of social media in government is positively and significantly associated with their satisfaction with increased transparency and interactivity between citizens and governments; citizens’ satisfaction is, in turn, positively and significantly associated with their trust in government. Meanwhile, citizens’ use of e-government services through Web 1.0 applications is positively but not significantly associated with their satisfaction with the services; however, citizens’ satisfaction with e-government services is positively and significantly associated with their trust in government. Based on the findings, the paper discusses the managerial and policy implications of the role of social media in building citizen trust in government.