The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Nguyen, Trémenbert: Local eGovernment in Brittany: The Power of Cognitive Alignment


Nguyen, G.D., Institut Telecom / Telecom Bretagne, Université Européenne de Bretagne, Marsouin
Trémenbert, J., Institut Telecom / Telecom Bretagne, Université Européenne de Bretagne, Marsouin


The state of the art literature about e-administration adoption claims that there is a process of adoption of IT, unfolded through several stages. Our hypothesis is that IT adoption instead, as much as any strong organizational process, looks very much like a diffusion process through thresholds. As a matter of fact, although the usage of computer is already well established, connectivity is far from diffused because it requires competences that are not acquired progressively. In front of strong resistance, a trigger factor has to be present which provokes a cognitive and organizational alignment, which may be
very spectacular in small municipalities. This alignment quickly makes the variegated usages of IT mutually reinforcing.

We verify our theoretical hypothesis through a statistical analysis of an inquiry on local government in Brittany. We end up with a typology of IT adoption among municipalities which reveals a fairly large class of advanced adopters among the smallest municipalities. The statistical study does not confirm the maturation cycle hypothesis, because of the existence of both a very large number of non adopters, but also a significant group of early adopters, which statistically speaking, should not have been so advanced in their usage. Therefore the statistical analysis is complemented by a series of case studies on smallest municipalities among these statistical exceptions. These interviews confirm the 'cognitive alignment' hypothesis of IT adoption.

Godefroy Dang Nguyen, Jocelyne Trémenbert