Show me the money! Documenting efficiency benefits from e-government

Christian Østergaard Madsen, Ulf Melin, Sara Hofmann, Ida Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to conference - NOT published in proceeding or journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


In 1987, Robert Solow wrote a book review in the New York Times, where he famously stated, “You can see the computer age everywhere except in the productivity statistics”. Solow, an economics professor from MIT and Nobel Laureate, referred to an interesting phenomenon. The post-war period had seen a large increase in automatization and the use of computers in US manufacturing. These changes had, according to some scholars, also lead to increased productivity. However, Solow noted that there was no evidence to support this claim, in fact, productivity had gone down, not up in the same period. Since then, many have sought to explain Solow’s productivity paradox regarding the private and public sector’s use of IT.

Inspired by Solow, we present a similar paradox we have observed in the e-government field. It is deceptively simple: On one hand, scholars and policymakers continuously state that e-government will bring several benefits, especially improved efficiency to the public sector. One the other hand, none of the authors can recall any academic paper from the e-government field that provides hard evidence for such benefits. While there are many other supposed benefits from e-government, we choose to focus on efficiency benefits because these are most frequently mentioned in the early e-government literature and policy papers and because the documentation of such efficiency gains seemingly has eluded the e-government research community so far.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date27 Jan 2021
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2021
EventScandinavian Workshop on E-government - Online, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 27 Jan 202128 Jan 2021
Conference number: 18


WorkshopScandinavian Workshop on E-government


  • e-government
  • benefit realization
  • efficiency
  • literature review


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