as an Official Communication Tool in Bahrain: Individual and Public Organization Perspectives

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1 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March as an Official Communication Tool in Bahrain: Individual and Public Organization Perspectives Wasan Shaker Awad, Department of Information Systems, College of Information Technology, University of Bahrain, Isa Town, Bahrain Ali Hussein Zolait, Department of Information Systems, College of Information Technology, University of Bahrain, Isa Town, Bahrain ABSTRACT This research studies the acceptance of for communicating official messages among citizens in Bahrain. It also examines the relationships between citizens age, educational level, gender, occupation, and organization type and as an official communication channel. A descriptive and quantitative research approach was applied to test hypotheses pertaining to the idea of using as an official and reliable communication tool. The findings show that can be used as an official and reliable tool to communicate information between citizens and the government in Bahrain. The findings also show that will be more widely used when specific security requirements are met. Thus, reliable electronic mail can provide an advanced means of communication and enhance the recently developed e-government program. This study contributes to existing research by proposing new construct for examining the acceptance of as an official communication tool. Keywords: Bahrain, Communication, E-Government, , Information Technology INTRODUCTION Through the years, the means of communication have evolved and now include advanced electronic methods. One of the first means of Internet communication was (Connell & Galbraith, 1982). The government of Bahrain is seeking to develop a strong Internet-based electronic government program and a number of successful steps have already been taken in this direction (Shehadi, 2011). As part of this program, major projects such as the Government Data Network (GDN), smart cards, and an electronic government portal have been launched to give the Kingdom of Bahrain a position of leadership in electronic government. Although the Kingdom of Bahrain has witnessed a number of achievements in the electronic government program, it must optimally DOI: /jesma

2 52 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 utilize the infrastructure that has been created and move toward the next level of electronic government, which is the delivery of the government s services to its citizens (Southard & Siau 2004; Chung & Paynter, 2002; Christopher & Reddick, 2005; Ramona, et.al, (2008). One major step that the government of Bahrain must take is to develop lines of communication with Bahraini citizens and organizations. Official communication in Bahrain is done through traditional means: sending official letters and documents by post and occasionally contacting citizens by telephone or face-to-face. In the current postal system used in Bahrain, the sender signs and stamps the message, which must be delivered by the postal worker. The receiver acknowledges receipt of the message. In light of the modern e-application revolution, the government of Bahrain must replace its traditional means of communication with more advanced and reliable electronic methods. Electronic mail ( ) is the best-known and most popular network-based application (Ramona, et.al, 2008). It is a way to communicate quickly and economically. Moreover, using for official communication has become rather popular. Adopting as an official means communication is a critical topic not only in Bahrain, but globally. This topic is significant because of the wide use of e-applications and rapid improvements in the e-government field. It is hoped that this study s results will provide a clear and comprehensive picture of the feasibility of using officially in Bahrain. This study may provide some small but valuable contribution to scientific research, particularly concerning the e-government field, and it can be considered as the trigger for a revolution in official communication in Bahrain. The following concerns are considered the reasons that motivate the use of electronic communication and highlight the need for an official exchange system in Bahrain: 1. The implementation of the e-government portal in Bahrain; 2. The need for a means of fast, reliable, and convenient electronic communication that also can be integrated into emerging e-applications; 3. The need for a new mailing system that can replace the current postal system and support official communication in Bahrain securely and efficiently. As in any new revolution, adopting for official communication may have both positive and negative responses; thus, it is important to analyze these responses and determine the level of support for this idea. Communication with both citizens and organizations involves the transmission of sensitive and legally binding information. Consequently, electronic communication must be extremely secure. Although an infrastructure has been developed for the commercial use of s, this infrastructure is not sufficiently secure for the exchange of sensitive, legal, and private official communications. As a result, there is a need to develop a new exchange system that fulfills security and legal requirements. Thus, the main objective of this study is to investigate the feasibility of using as an official communications tool in Bahrain. In addition to the study s main objective, the results of a number of sub-objectives are presented as well; these sub-objectives are described below: 1. To provide a detailed study about technology, including its advantages and disadvantages as well as a review of case studies that have used for official communication; 2. To measure the willingness of Bahraini citizens and organizations to use as an official means of communication; 3. To study the legal issues of using for official government communication in Bahrain. The use of by the Kingdom of Bahrain to communicate with its citizens will be beneficial to both the administration and

3 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March the citizens. First, is an easy, affordable, and fast way to communicate for both senders and receivers. Second, enables both parties to retain their previous messages and reference them in other correspondence. Third, can enable mass communication as it uses electronic mailing lists that include large groups of respondents, such as students, doctors, and businessmen (Roselle and Neufeld, 1998). Furthermore, electronic mailing lists can be used to broadcast a single message to a large group of individuals where no reply is required. Fourth, can be used for other purposes, such as conducting polls on topics of public interest (e.g., forthcoming elections or government-funded projects) or as an informative tool to instruct citizens on government issues, policies, procedures, laws, and traffic problems. Fifth, is rich in content and enabled features, such as text, images, video, and voice. Finally, is a convenient tool for citizens to submit petitions, complaints, and suggestions to the government. There are a number of studies on e-government, but most do not examine the use of as an official tool for government agencies to communicate with citizens. The implication of the current study can be viewed as an inspiration for creative researchers that emphasize more advanced research on the subject. This study contributes to the scientific body of knowledge by proposing a new construct to examine the acceptance of as an official communication tool. It also contributes to practice by examining the role and effect of demographic variables in use and acceptance in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The current study will make a notable contribution to the field of e-government because it will provide insight on individual and public acceptance of as an official communication tool. The research outcome of this study will be a good information resource to guide the implementation of in government communication in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The paper is organized as follows. In this introduction, the background, motivation and research question of the study have been provided. In the next section, issues pertaining to literature are discussed. In the following section, e-government and e-communication in Bahrain is presented. The research model is then presented and the study s hypotheses are discussed. The research design, which discusses the methods of data collection and study sampling, is also discussed. The research findings and the results of testing the hypotheses are presented. In the final section, the conclusion and discussion of the main research findings are included. LITERATURE REVIEW Electronic Mail Islam and Scupola (2011, p. 35) reported that, government e-service as a subfield of the e- government domain has been gaining attention to practitioners and academicians alike due to the growing use of information and communication technologies at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Electronic mail is a recent technological innovation can be considered as E-services, which intended as services provided through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is designed to provide real-time, anyplace, 24/7 accessibility and high quality value added services at individual, organizational and societal levels (Islam and Scupola 2011). Electronic mail ( ) is a message sent electronically from one computer to another (Mead & Hill, 1997). It has become so commonly used that it is difficult for some people to remember what life was like without . Ranked with the World Wide Web as one of the most useful features of the Internet, has become one of today s standard and preferred means of communication. usage by businesses became common several years before individuals began using it at home. By the late 1990s, approximately 40% of all American households owned a computer and 26% of those households had Internet access. In America, a 1998 study indicated that there were 25 million users sending 15 billion messages per year (Abbate, 1999).

4 54 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March has grown beyond being just a method of communicating in business; it is now a means of doing business and has become an integral part of workers lives. Most employees have Internet access at work and an account to help them collaborate with their colleagues and customers and be more productive at work. A portion of those s replace telephone calls, faxes, and traditional mail (Lerner, 2008). An example of a firm that has used to increase productivity is Western Provident Association (WPA), which is one of Britain s leading health insurers; WPA insures over 500,000 people and over 5,000 companies (Whelan, 2000). The main reason people connect to the Internet is to communicate by . The Internet has become a hub for many means of communication: text messages, phone calls, and video images can all be made and sent via the Internet (Roselle and Neufeld, 1998). Furthermore, the growth of mobile communication and continuing improvements in mobile communication devices mean that is now accessible almost anywhere. has become so popular because of its many benefits (Mahfouz (2010): it is relatively low-cost, it is easy to send messages to many people at once and to distribute information such as reports, spreadsheets, and presentations in formats tailored to individuals needs, it is convenient, fast, and available around the clock (Computer Desktop Encyclopedia, 2008; Pallen, 1995). However, also has certain disadvantages: without sufficient security protection, it can be susceptible to viruses, spamming, flaming, phishing, and violation of privacy. Most of these problems can be solved by the use of protection techniques, including antivirus programs and regulations to govern the use of Internet services (Computer Desktop Encyclopedia, 2008; Pallen, 1995). Many studies have been conducted to study the business applications of and its benefits (Leong, Gingrich, Lewis, Mauger, & George, 2005; Pallen, 1995; Feelhwan, Shiraishi, & Takahashi, 2010; Changyan, et al., 2011; Belotti, Ducheneaut, Howard, & Smith, 2003; Mahfouz, 2010; Aidan and Patrick, 2004; Andrew & Chadwick, 2003; Victoria, et al., (2003). Although a number of studies have considered the problem of interactivity between citizens and government, they did not examine the use of as an official communication tool between the government and its citizens (Chadwick, 2003; Reddick, 2005; Fulla & Welch, 2002; Phahlamohlaka, Twinomurinzi, Masanabo, & Mahlangu, 2010; McNeal, Hale, & Dotterweich, 2008). On the other hand, a number of studies have pointed out that it is feasible to use officially while minimizing the negative characteristics of through a combination of policies, electronic monitoring, and security techniques (Awad, 2010; Duane & Finnegan, 2004; Christopher & Reddick, 2005). A number of governments have considered the use of in an official capacity. On November 6 and 7 of 1997, with the sponsorship of the Markle Foundation, the RAND Corporation convened a workshop in Washington, D.C. to begin a discussion about the character of the required infrastructure for official , who might provide it, how it might be financed, and what other policy changes (institutional, legal, programmatic) might be necessary to support secure communication between governments and citizens (Neu, Anderson, & Bikson, 1998). At the Summit on the 21st Century Workforce on June 20, 2001 in Washington, D.C., United States Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the creation of a compliance initiative to ensure that the Department of Labor (DOL) answers all electronic inquiries from DOL customers in a timely manner. This policy required all DOL agencies to establish and advertise electronic public contact mechanisms on DOL public Web sites to collect general comments, suggestions, and inquiries from the public and to develop procedures for handling electronic correspondence in accordance with this policy. This initiative provided the option for agencies to integrate electronic correspondence procedures with their existing paper correspondence procedures (Whelan, 2000).

5 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March The main offices and agencies involved in this project are the DOL s national office, regional offices, area offices, and state-plan states. These offices and agencies must implement the project s policies and procedures in order to ensure the consistency of correspondence (US Department of Labor, 2008). In addition to the USA, Perry (1992) presents the use of in different countries. E-GOVERNMENT AND E-COMMUNICATION IN BAHRAIN Today s public administration faces a growing need to share information and collaborate with other agencies and organizations in order to meet their objectives because government agencies and organizations are gradually transforming into networked organizations (Sánchez- Nielsen, et al., 2011). Basically, E-government according to Medeni, et al., (2011) means provision of public services through electronic means, which implies faster and cheaper access to these services. Bahrain s e-government program may increase the convenience and accessibility of government services and information to citizens (Aidan and Patrick, 2004). There is not much research on this topic, and there is no clear view of the feasibility of using e-applications for official communications in Bahrain. Bahrain s e-government program was launched on May 23 rd, 2007 (Kingdom of Bahrain e-government Portal, 2011). This three-year program aims to bring about a dramatic shift in the provisioning of government services to all members of Bahraini society: citizens, expatriates, businesses, public sector employees, and visitors. In order to facilitate the adoption of the e-government program, a decree was issued including a provision to establish an E- Government Agency (EGA) to coordinate and implement the e-government program in accordance with the strategies, plans, and projects developed or approved by the Supreme Committee for Information Technology and Communications, which was established in The mandate of the EGA is to facilitate and execute the e-government program within a defined framework, support e-government growth, and provide a forum for knowledge sharing between various projects. The following are some of the EGA s directives: To develop general policy and appropriate strategies for e-government programs and present them to the Supreme Committee for approval; To identify the necessary programs for information technology, the provision of data and services, and the facilitation of communication among all state bodies; To propose legislation and polices for the implementation of e-government programs; To establish electronic channels to provide e-government services; To hold courses, workshop, symposiums, meetings, and any other activities that assist in the development of public awareness of the importance and role of e-government; To collaborate with local, regional, and international centers concerning e-government; To utilize national and foreign expertise to further study e-government development, carry out research, and organize e-government training seminars; To collect data, statistical information, and results from previous related studies that fulfills the objectives of the executives of government agencies, universities, and institutions in the private sector; To provide technical and scientific support for ministries and other government agencies to enact e-government programs; To participate as a representative of the Kingdom of Bahrain in regional and global events that debate issues of information technology and e-government.

6 56 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 The services offered through the Internet range from information provision to online transactions. The service most widely available on government Web sites is the posting of information; nevertheless, the use of the Internet for online transactions by government agencies is flourishing. Some online transactional services include the renewal of vehicle registration and the payment of bills. TECHNOLOGY ACCEPTANCE The information systems theory Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) explains the acceptance of new ideas. According to TAM model, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use determine an individual s attitude, which in turn determines the individual s intention to use a system. Here, intention to use is a mediator of actual system use. Perceived usefulness is also considered as being directly impacted by perceived ease of use (Davis, 1986). TAM assumes that once an individual develops a positive attitude and the intention to behave positively toward an innovation, that individual becomes free to act without limitation. However, in practice, limitations on ability, time, environment, and organization can limit freedom to act, as can unconscious habits. Researchers have adapted TAM to many studies by removing or adding other constructs from related models, introducing additional or alternative belief factors, and examining antecedents and moderators of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Figure 1 presents a diagram of TAM, which is used to guide the execution of the current study. RESEARCH MODEL In this study, it is logically proposed that is feasible as an official means of communication if and only if individuals accept this innovation (Davis, 1986, 1989). Therefore, the feasibility of implementation in Bahrain begins at the individual level because individuals (citizens) will be the main recipients of government communication. Both private and government organizations must possess the technical and financial capabilities to successfully implement this innovation (Rogers, 1995; Rogers, & Shoemaker, 1971). Furthermore, innovation s legality and positive impact on the community and organizations may contribute to diffusion throughout the government of Bahrain (Ducheneaut, 2002). Hypotheses This study also proposes that individual acceptance of for official communication may depend on many demographic factors, including gender, age, occupation, and level of education, while organizational acceptance may depend on the type of organization. is effective, convenient, and simple, and is therefore widely used (Kock, 2005; Lee, 1994). It may be con- Figure 1. Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis, 1986, 1989)

7 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March sidered a preferred way for the government to communicate with almost half the population of Bahrain. This study proposes that there is a positive relationship between individuals in Bahrain and the acceptance of as an official communication tool. Therefore, research H0, meant to test this relationship, is stated in the following manner: H0: Individuals in Bahrain have positive attitudes about the adoption of for official communication with the government. This study proposes that there is a greater probability that members of the younger generation (age 30 and below) are more familiar with technology because they use it in their academic careers. Consequently, the majority of individuals who are accepting of as an official means of communication may be young. Therefore, H1 tests whether there is a relationship between individuals age and their acceptance of for official communication. H1: There is a negative relationship between age and acceptance of for official communication in Bahrain. The ability to use is considered skill more than knowledge, and skills are typically improved by practice (Lee, 1994). If, for example, concepts were learned in an academic program, individuals will not be able to use efficiently unless they use it frequently. Higher educational level may not necessarily mean higher acceptance of for official communication. Therefore, the relationship between individuals level of education and their acceptance of official is hypothesized in the following manner: H2: There is a positive relationship between individuals educational level and their acceptance of for official communication. The adoption of for official communication is a decision, and studies have found slight gender differences in decision making (Turban, Aronson, & Liang, 2007). Therefore, gender may affect individuals willingness to adopt for official communication. Therefore, hypothesis H3 considers the relationship between gender and acceptance of for official communication. H3: There is a positive relationship between gender and acceptance of for official communication. The influence of technology is expanding rapidly, and individuals in many occupations must deal with it directly or indirectly in their daily work. is now used extensively within almost every organization. Hence, a person s occupation may affect his or her attitude toward as an official means of communication with the government. H4 considers whether occupation has an influence on acceptance of for official communication in Bahrain. H4: There is a positive relationship between occupation and acceptance of for official communication. Like many technologies, has advantages and disadvantages; studies of public opinion concerning these advantages and disadvantages show that a positive attitude is important for the adoption of as an official means of communication. H5 considers attitude toward the adoption of for official communication on the part of members of the public and private and government organizations. H5: There is a positive relationship between individuals attitude and the use of as an official communication tool. has evolved from the relaying of simple text messages to the complete sharing of documents. Many businesses have adopted

8 58 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 it because it improves efficiency, reduces costs, and increases productivity and profit. H6 states that there is a positive relationship between organizations acceptance of and the adoption of for official communication in Bahrain. H6: There is a positive relationship between organizations acceptance of and the use of for official communication. The kind of legal documents and papers that organizations exchange with the government varies according to organization type. Therefore, there may be variance in the acceptance of for official communication based on organization type (Ducheneaut, 2002). H7 states that there is a relationship between organization type and acceptance of for official communication. H7: There is a positive relationship between organization type and acceptance of for official communication. H8 investigates the technical capabilities of the government represented by the EGA to implement for official communication with citizens. The result of testing this hypothesis will show whether the EGA has qualified technical personnel with adequate knowledge about hardware and software and sufficient skill to implement a successful system. H8: There is a positive relationship between EGA technical capability and the employment of for official communication. H9 considers the financial capability of the government represented by the EGA to implement for official communication with citizens. The result of testing H9 will show whether the EGA has sufficient financial resources to implement an system that can successfully replace traditional means of communication. H9: There is a positive relationship between the EGA s financial capabilities and the employment of for official communication. Like many countries, Bahrain has rules and regulations that govern official communication between the government and the citizens. H10 considers the legality of the use of for official communication in Bahrain. H10: There is a positive relationship between the use of for official communication and legality in Bahrain. RESEARCH DESIGN This study follows a descriptive quantitative research method that aims to develop and employ mathematical models, theories, and hypotheses pertaining to the use of for official communication (Cooper & Schindler, 2003). Data Collection Methods In order to achieve this research objective, two main data collection techniques were used: survey questionnaires and interviews (Cooper & Schindler, 2003; Brayman and Bell, 2007). Questionnaires: The survey was designed to encompass two types of respondents: public organizations and individuals. Several items were used to assess their willingness to use for official communication. There were two questionnaires; the first targeted members of the Bahraini public and the second targeted private and government organizations. This study used a five-point Likert scale to assess

9 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March respondent opinions about the survey items, and were scored in the following manner: (1) strongly disagree, (2) agree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (4) disagree, (5) strongly agree. Questionnaire for members of the public: The purpose of this questionnaire was to collect information about individual members of the public and measure their level of acceptance of for official communication. Table 1 presents the contents of the questionnaire administered to individual members of the public. Questionnaire for organizations: The purpose of this questionnaire was to ascertain the perspectives from private and government organizations on the use of for official communication in Bahrain and to measure their acceptance level. Table 2 presents the contents of the questionnaire administered to these organizations. Interviews: In addition to the questionnaires, this study conducted two main interviews. The first was with the head assistant of the EGA; it was conducted to study the Bahraini government s capability of implementing for official communication. It was primarily intended to determine the validity of H8 and H9. The second interview was conducted with a lawyer in Bahrain to explore the legality of Table 1. Individual questionnaire Part Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Description Ten multiple-choice questions to collect demographic information such as gender, age, educational level, occupation, level of exposure to technology, and number of accounts. Scaling questions that required respondents to choose from among nine different scales, and comprising questions to measure respondents acceptance of for official communication. Two ranking questions about s potential advantages and disadvantages if used for official communication. Three open questions to record respondents opinions and suggestions. Related Hypotheses/ Opinions H1, H2, H3, and H4 H0 and H5 H5 Gain ideas and analyze opinions. Table 2. Organization questionnaire Part Description Related Hypothesis/Objectives Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Four questions to collect background information about the respondent s organization, including job title, organization name, type, and industry. Three multiple-choice questions about use of , type of network used, and with whom was used to correspond. Scaling questions that required respondents to choose from among nine different scales, and consisting of questions to measure respondents acceptance of for official communication and obtain their opinions about security and privacy issues. Two open questions about how employee awareness of for official communication can be increased and opinions of the advantages and disadvantages of using officially within the organization. H7 Is used for official communication within the organization? H6 To ascertain organizations perspectives about using for official communication.

10 60 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 using for official communication. It was primarily intended to determine the validity of H10. Sampling This study s populations were the citizens of Bahrain (individuals) and private and government organizations. The total population of Bahrain is 760,168, and the number of private and government organizations is approximately This study used the random sampling method, which gives each respondent of the population an equal and known chance of being selected (Cooper & Schindler, 2003). For questionnaire targeting individuals, the size of the sample depends on how representative the sample must be (Tabachnick, & Fidell, 2007). The formula stated in Equation (1) can be used to determine the sample size in the following manner: Sample size = 0.25 * (certainty factor/acceptable error) 2 (1) The certainty factor denotes how accurate the sample is, and can be determined from Table 3. The desired level of certainty for the current study was 90%. Accordingly, the study administered questionnaires to at least 68 public respondents. In order to increase the sample s level of integrity, particularly given that the sample confidence level of individuals tends to be low, the sample size was increased to 80 individuals. The second questionnaire was administered to a sample of 20 organizations selected randomly: the Ministry of Health, AFFNO, Batelco, the Ministry of the Interior, the Survey and Land Registration Bureau, the Al-Moayed Group, Microsoft, Al-Wast #, the Ministry of Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Ernst & Young, the Nass Group, Gulf Air, Union Aluminium, Kano Holidays, Lufthansa Airlines, Al-Fozan Building Material, Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo, the University of Bahrain, and the Economic Development Board. RESULTS In this study, we used SPSS and Excel for analyzing the data (Coakes & Steed, 2003; Tabachnick, & Fidell, 2007). SPSS was used for descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the important features of the project sample, while inferential statistics were used to test the study s hypotheses. The reliability test performed and Cronbach s alpha of.07 and above achieved. Figure 2 presents the research model. Summary of Respondents Profile This questionnaire was distributed to 80 respondents. A general statistical description of the questionnaire sample is provided below in Table 4. Table 4 displays respondents profile. The analysis shows that 27.5% of questionnaire respondents were male and 72.5% were female, with no missing values. The descriptive analysis in Table 4 shows that 10.0% of questionnaire respondents were less than 21 years old, 67.5% were years old, 16.2% were years old, 5.0% were years old, and 1.2% were older than 50 years old, with no missing values. The analysis reveals that 6.2% of questionnaire Table 3. Sample size Desired Certainty Certainty Factor Required Number of Respondents 95% % %

11 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March Figure 2. Research model respondents held an intermediate school degree, a lower degree, or no degree, 17.5% had a secondary school degree, 17.5% had a diploma, 55.0% had a B.Sc. degree, and 3.8% had a Masters degree, with no missing values. In term of the occupation of respondents, the analysis shows that 6.2% of questionnaire respondents were unemployed, 45.0% were employed, and 48.8% were students, with no missing values. Awareness of Technology Question: Have you ever heard about technology? The analysis reveals that 98.8% of questionnaire respondents were aware of technology, while 1.2% of questionnaire respondents were unaware, with no missing values. Number of Addresses Question: How many addresses do you have? The analysis shows that the number of addresses that respondents had ranged from one to nine, as shown in Table 5. Usage of Each Respondent Question: How often do you check your ? The analysis shows that 68.4% of respondents checked on a daily basis, 15.8% checked weekly, 6.6% checked monthly, 6.6% checked occasionally (less than once a month), and 2.6% never checked, with four missing values, as shown in Table 6. Individuals Skills Question: How would you rate your skill as an user? The analysis reveals that 1.3% of respondents had very basic skills, 15.8% had basic skills, 32.9% had average skills, and 50.0% had advanced skills, with four missing values, as shown in Table 7. Next, the hypotheses that the questionnaire was designed to explore were examined. As mentioned previously, this questionnaire was designed to test H0, H1, H2, H3, H4, and H5.

12 62 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 Table 4. Summary of respondents profile findings Gender Age Educational (School Degree) Occupation Category Frequency Percent Valid Percent Male Female Total < 21 years years years years > 50 years Total Intermediate & Less degree Secondary School Diploma B.Sc Master Total Student Employee Unemployed Total Cumulative Percent Table 5. Number of addresses N Valid 76 Missing 4 Mean 3 Median 2 Mode 2 Minimum 1 Maximum 9

13 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March Table 6. usage frequency Valid Frequency Percentage Valid Percentage Daily Weekly Monthly Occasionally Never Total Missing System Total Cumulative Percentage Table 7. skills frequency Valid Frequency Percentage Valid Percentage Very basic Basic Average Advanced Total Missing System Total Cumulative Percentage H0: Individuals in Bahrain have positive attitudes regarding the adoption of for official communication with the government. Four statements were created in order to test this hypothesis and respondents were asked to choose the option that matched their opinion. Table 8 and Figures 3 through 6 present the analysis results for each statement. Result: Table 8 shows that individuals tended to be favorable to the idea, as affirmative responses to all statements ranged from 70% to 88.4%. Therefore, the majority of individuals are in favor of adopting for official communication. Hence, H0 is supported. H1: There is a negative relationship between age and acceptance of for official communication in Bahrain. Result: The Chi-Square tests (see Table 9) show that the significance value is 0.494, which is greater than 0.05 (not significant). Therefore, there is no relationship between age and acceptance of for official communication. Hence, H1 is not supported. H2: There is a positive relationship between individuals educational level and their acceptance of for official communication.

14 64 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 Table 8. Public acceptance, where N = Negligible Statement Communication via is better than traditional paper-based (postal) communication. Adopting as an official means of communication between citizens and government agencies is a good way to address and establish communication requirements. Using for official communication will improve communication between citizens and government agencies. If you have two options for official communication (paper-based and ), you will choose . Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree N N N % % % % Strongly Agree Missing Figure 3. Communication via is better than traditional paper-based communication Result: The Chi-Square tests (see Table 10) show that the significance value is 0.109, which is greater than 0.05 (not significance). Therefore, there is no relationship between individuals educational level and their acceptance of for official communication in Bahrain. Hence, H2 is not supported. H3: There is a positive relationship between gender and acceptance of for official communication. Result: In order to test this hypothesis, a Chi-Square test was used to \determine whether there is a relationship between gender and opinion about the adoption of as an official means of communication. The Chi-Square tests (see Table 11) show that the significance value is 0.796, which is greater than 0.05 (not significant). Therefore, there is no relationship between gender and acceptance of for official communication. Hence, H3 is not supported.

15 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March Figure 4. Adopting as an official means of communication between citizens and government agencies Figure 5. Using for office communication will improve communication between citizens and government agencies Figure 6. If you have two options for official communication (paper-based and ), you will choose

16 66 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 Table 9. Relationship between age and individual acceptance of (Chi-Square Test) Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-Sided) Pearson Chi-Square a Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases 77 Table 10. Relationship between educational level and individual acceptance of (Chi- Square Test) Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-Sided) Pearson Chi-Square a Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases 77 Table 11. Relationship between gender and individual acceptance of (Chi-Square Test) Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-Sided) Pearson Chi-Square a Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases 77 H4: There is a positive relationship between occupation and acceptance of for official communication. Result: The Chi-Square tests (see Table 12) show that the significance value is 0.742, which is greater than 0.05 (not significant). Therefore, there is no relationship between occupation and individual acceptance of as an official means of communication. Hence, H4 is not supported. One statement was designed in order to test this hypothesis: The advantages of for official communication are greater than its Table 12. Relationship between individual acceptance and occupation Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-Sided) Pearson Chi-Square a Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases 77

17 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March disadvantages. Respondents were asked to choose the option that matched their opinion regarding this hypothesis. H5: There is a positive relationship between individuals attitude and the use of as an official communication tool. Result: Table 13 indicates that 70.5% (33.3% agree, 37.2% strongly agree) of respondents agree that says the advantages of for official communication are greater than its disadvantages. Therefore, the public has a positive attitude toward the adoption of for official communication. Hence, H5 is supported. The Questionnaire for Organizations This questionnaire was designed to test H6 and H7, and was distributed to 20 private and government organizations. The analysis reveals that 65.0% of organizations were private and 35.0% were governmental, with no missing values, as shown in Table 14. The analysis reveals that 90.0% of organizations were already using for official communication and 10.0% were not, no missing values, as shown in Table 15. One possible reason that 10% of the organizations do not use is that they do not consider it a secure medium. Therefore, they never use to communicate sensitive corporate information. Additionally, the lack of usage may be attributed to the culture of these organizations. Four statements were designed in order to test this hypothesis and respondents were asked to choose the options that matched their organizations opinions. Table 15 and Figures 7 through 10 present the analysis results for each statement. Result: As Table 16 shows, most organizations are in favor of adopting for official communication, as the percentages of affirmative responses for all statements were between Table 13. Attitude and frequency for the adoption of for official communication Valid Frequency Percentage Valid Percentage Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree Strongly Agree Total Missing System Total Cumulative Percentage Table 14. Type and frequency for organizations Valid Frequency Percentage Valid Percentage Private Government Total Cumulative Percentage

18 68 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 Table 15. Official mailing frequency Valid Frequency Percentage Valid Percentage Yes No Total Cumulative Percentage Figure 7. Communication via is better than traditional paper-based (postal) communication Figure 8. Adopting as an official means of communication between the private and government sectors is a good idea given the e-application revolution

19 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March Figure 9. Applying as a means of communication in your organization will improve productivity and performance Figure 10. If your organization has two options for official communication (traditional or e- mail), you will choose 90% and 95%. Therefore, the majority of the organizations in Bahrain are in favor of the adoption of for official communication. Hence, H6 is supported. Result: The Chi-Square tests (see Table 17) show that the significance value is 0.752, which is greater than 0.05 (not significant). Therefore, there is no relationship between the organization type and acceptance of for official communication. Hence, H8 is not supported. E-Government Agent Interview This interview was designed to test H8 and H9, as shown in Table 18.

20 70 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March 2013 Table 16. Organizations adoption of Statements Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree Strongly Agree Missing Communication via is better than traditional paper-based (postal) communication. N N % 0 Adopting as an official means of communication between the private and government sectors is a good idea given the e-application revolution. N N % 0 Applying as a means of communication in your organization will improve productivity and performance. N % 0 If your organization has two options for official communication (traditional or ), you will choose . N % Table 17. Relationship between organization type and acceptance of for official communication Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-Sided) Pearson Chi-Square.569(a) Likelihood Ratio Linear-by-Linear Association N of Valid Cases 20 Analysis of the interview (see Q2) shows that the EGA is technically and financially capable of handling the adoption of for official communication. Hence, H8 and H9 are supported. Legal Consultant Interview With regard to legality, the researchers interviewed an expert lawyer with specific competence in the area of digital rights and cyber law. The interview attempted to obtain further information pertaining to legality of using as an official communication method in Bahrain. It was designed to test H10 (see Table 19). An analysis of the interview reveals that the adoption of for official communication is legal. However, there are legal issues when is used instead of signed documents, including authentication and public registration. The government of Bahrain can address these problems by implementing documentation systems, digital signatures, and digital certificates. Hence, H10 is supported. Table 20 presents the hypothesis status after the analysis of the results. DISCUSSION The analysis shows that 88.4% of individuals and 95% of organizations in Bahrain are in favor of using technology for official communication, since most individuals are familiar with and most organizations in Bahrain already use for business. The results show that 98.8% of respondents are aware of technology, which implies that technology is used by almost everyone, regardless of gender, age, educational level, or occupation. Consequently, there is no relationship between acceptance of for official

21 International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, 5(1), 51-76, January-March Table 18. E-government agent interview analysis Interviewee: Miss Amal Al-Eid Job Title: Head of Assistance for the Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA). Date: 5/20/2008 Place: Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention (E-Government conference 2008). Subject: Feasibility of using for official communication in Bahrain. Question Q1: Do you think that adopting as an official means of communication between citizens and government agencies is a value-added project? Q2: Is Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA) technically capable of handling such a project? Q3: Is the Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA) financially capable of handling such a project? Q4: Is the Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA) capable of increasing citizens awareness of technology? How? Q5: Is the Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA) capable of increasing employee training to deal with the new technical requirements of the project? How? Q6: Is the adoption of as an official means of communication a complementary part of the E-Government project launched by the Kingdom of Bahrain s E-Government Agency (EGA)? Q7: Is technology secure enough to protect citizens privacy? Q8: Do you think that launching such a project can have a positive effect on the community? Yes, I do. Answer Yes, it is. The EGA has sufficient technical staff and scientific support to handle this project adequately. Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Through courses, workshops, symposiums, meetings, and other activities for developing public awareness of the importance of . Yes, it is. By holding frequent meetings with specialists, providing training sessions, and involving employees in the project from the beginning and making them aware of project requirements. Absolutely, yes. Yes, it is. Yes, I do. For example, this project can help Bahrain meet a global standard of communication. communication and gender, age, educational level, occupation, or organization type. Thus, Bahrain is ready to accept for official communication. Finally, the interviews have shown that the adoption of for official communication is legal, and that certain rules and regulations govern the communication process. In addition, the researchers found that using technology is feasible in every respect. The findings show that using officially is accepted by Bahraini citizens and organizations. It also shows, based on the literature review and Decree No. 69 of 2007, that the Bahraini government, represented by the EGA, is technically ready to implement this project. In addition, the results of the interviews conducted show that the adoption of for official communication is legal. Consequently, using technology is feasible in every respect. CONCLUSION Individuals attitudes toward are changing, and many individuals now use daily. The disadvantages of are decreasing with advances in technology. In addition, the number of paper-based mailings will continue to decline as more benefits and functions of e- mail are developed. Future research on

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