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Part II Management and Marketing

Chapter 6 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Internet Communication in Malaysia: An Empirical Study of Perceived Individual Factors and Continuance of Use

Abstract An exponential growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) facilitated by a global convergence of computer networks and system revolution has resulted into an extensive use of Internet technologies. To be sure, the Government, through the Malaysian Parliament, has been aggressive in its initiative in providing the necessary environment to empower the MPs in ICT through various ICT platforms and technologies. This study discusses the impact of Internet technologies on MPs in Malaysia through official or nonofficial (personalize) means of communications. The findings showed that the Internet technologies are well accepted by the MPs and the continuance of use of ICT is positively correlated.

6.1 Introduction

Increasing Internet-driven and global digital revolution owing to an explosive growth of computer networks and systems has encouraged members of parliaments (MPs) to continuously immerse themselves in changing their work style, lives, relationships, and services to something newer and better, usually referred to as Internet communication, riding upon the new media technologies. To differentiate themselves as versatile MPs, they need to constantly focus on utilizing ICT as an enabler of efficient and effective dealing with their constituent members. It has been acknowledged that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are instrumental in which citizens may be engaged in democratic process [1], over various political issues, the process of public decision making and wider civil society. Similarly, Heeley and Damodaran [2] propose the broader concept of digital inclusion: ICTs empower citizens to go beyond being “users and choosers” of technology to become makers and shapers of the technologies available to them and the rest of society. At the World 2003 Summit on Information Society, the world leaders pledge to support and build nations which are people oriented, inclusive, and development-oriented information society for all, which would enable everyone to access, utilize, and share information and knowledge [3]. Reference [4] suggested that ICT usage among individual MPs can generate important implications for both party organizations (organizational dimension and the legislative institutions (institutional dimension)) through spontaneous virtual dialogue, internal restructuring, and a reduction in hierarchies within respective political parties and might accelerate organizational pluralism by creating new political networks outside the party of the parliamentary sphere. However, very little research has addressed Internet communication from the perspective of MPs in Malaysia.

An innovative use of ICT to deliver more open and transparent democratic decision-making processes has been widely examined within developed nations particularly in the western countries [5–8]. For developing nations like Malaysia, studies on the implications of Internet communication on MPs are still infancy. In its effort to become a more effective and efficient functioning of government, Malaysia has also placed great emphasis on the need for improving services for their citizen, leveraging on the potential of ICT as an enabler. However, despite all the claims that new media technologies are bound to lead to more democratic consequences, ICT have been criticized for neglecting the ways in which “technologies are themselves socially shaped and for conceiving political relationships in an excessively functional and mechanistic fashion that misses the cultural and ideological dynamic of social power” [9, 10]. In addition, some recently published empirical researches suggest a rather dismal picture. For instance, Di Gennaro and Dutton [11] argued that online political participation was reinforcing or even exacerbating existing inequalities in offline political participation by increasing the involvement online among those who are already politically active, thus isadvantaging those from the less educated and lower socioeconomic groups.

Given the importance of Internet communication to elevate the MPs' position, a number of studies have tried to identify the possible antecedents of e-parliamentarians in the context of ICT usage. The extant literature has grouped these factors into individual dimension, i.e., MPs developing and utilizing personal ICT services, such as personal websites and political blogs (provided independently of part by parliamentary facilities); organizational dimension, i.e., the ICT services provided by the political party organizations that provide ICT facilities and partybased websites for their respective parliamentary MPs and thus operate under a collective identity with overly partisan objectives; and institutional (legislative) dimension, i.e., the role of the parliamentary institutions in providing broad ICT functions and a website for the entire legislature [4]. Of the new media variables, the literature has also highlighted the role of technological convergence as an important conduit for more open and transparent democratic decision-making processes [5, 12, 13]. In turn, the tone and conditions of the “informing and participating” can contribute the policy debate and where contributions themselves are both deeper and broader or otherwise. Most studies on Internet technologies suggest that the role of innovative ICT, i.e., technological convergence by their very nature, broadens democracy [14, 15]. When people believed that there is “mass” deliberation by citizen instead of “elite” deliberation by elected representatives [16], they are likely to reciprocate through “informed and active” citizenry, all of which are likely to stimulate dynamic citizen participation. Van Djik [8] addressed the role of ICT with such participatory models of democracy in order to inform and activate the citizenry. Against this backdrop, the objective of this study was to examine the effect of individual factors of MPs (perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, perceived self-efficacy) and the continuance use of ICT.

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