Université Paul Sabatier | firstname.lastname@example.org
L’Administration électronique, French for e-government, is a particularly interesting case to
study because it highlights some idiosyncrasies
related to the French culture but also reveals
how French public policy might be affected by
the European context. This article presents a
non-exhaustive list of topics that might shed
some light on the current challenges in developing e-government applications in France.
[ 1] Brousseaua, E.
France: Did Early
Adoption Prevent Its
Information Society 19,
1(2003): 45 – 57.
November + December 2010
Adoption of IT: The French Paradox
Generally speaking, French government and
citizens are late adopters of information
technologies. A good example is the online
income-declaration system, implemented quite
late in France in comparison to other pioneer
countries, like Brazil, where online tax declaration has been in place since 1997, preceded
earlier by tax software available on floppy
disk. The number of online income declarations in France started with a timid 60,000
in 2002, but it rapidly increased to reach 9. 7
million declarations in 2009 (about 25 percent of the total number of declarations) once
the French government offered a reduction of
20 euros for online filers who owed taxes.
Another example concerns the adoption of the
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) (for Télévision
Numérique Terrestre). The DTT standard was formally adopted on August 2000 but initial tests
were not performed until January 2005, a few
years behind the U.K. and the U.S. The French
government expects that by the end of 2011,
digital adoption will be high enough to complete
the switch-off of analog signals. French DTT will
be available ahead of most European countries,
but the entire process took more than 10 years,
one of the slowest among European countries.
It is worth mentioning that in the 1980s, France
was one step ahead of everyone with the advent
of the Minitel, an IT technique developed by the
French Ministry of Telecommunication allowing
users to access a large catalog of online services.
Minitel technology has ultimately been superseded
by the Internet and the emergence of the Web, but
its retirement has been postponed several times.
Minitel no longer holds as much importance as it
did in the 1990s French economy, but a few were
still in use in the beginning of 2010 due to a simple
user interface and virus-free environment.
In some ways the Minitel might have hindered
the adoption of the Internet, but it also created the
conditions for a rapid assimilation of the technology
when France switched to the Internet in 1997 [ 1].
The French were already open to the use of IT—a
dense network of online specialists and information
service providers already existed—and many of the
investments required to go digital had already been
made. On the other hand, by mid-2001 France was
still far behind the early adopters of e-commerce.
The adoption of mobile technology in France
has also been slower than in other European countries such as Italy and The Netherlands. It is not
surprising that initiatives concerning the use of
mobile technology by the French government are
just emerging. The first Web portal dedicated to
the dissemination of mobile applications in France
( www.proximamobile.fr) was launched in February
2010 with 24 applications ( 68 applications are
expected by end of the year), including the virtual
visiting of public museums, reports of traffic and
street incidents, and a calendar of public events.
Nonetheless, France represents a huge market to
be sized. According to the French authority ACERP
( www.arcep.fr), there are now more than 61 million mobile phone users (95 percent of the French