E-campaigning: An Empirical Study of the Utilisation of ICTs for Election Campaigning in the 2008 New Zealand General Election
E-campaigning refers to the utilisation of information and communication technologies (ICTs), predominantly the Internet, and related applications for election campaigning. At present, scholarly research in this social phenomenon chiefly focuses on how e-campaigning is utilised by political parties or candidates. Also, there is growing research interest in factors that influence e-campaigning utilisation. However, political parties’ or candidates’ e-campaigning utilisation is largely unexplored and unexplained. This is attributable to several factors, notably, restricted access to the phenomenon, the narrow and geographical concentration of existing e-campaigning research, the accessibility of political parties’ or candidates’ campaign teams as research participants, and a dearth of multidisciplinary research. To that end, this study empirically explores and explains e-campaigning utilisation with a multidisciplinary, multiple-case research approach. Further, this study is situated in the 2008 New Zealand general election, involving six of eight parliamentary parties. Based on existing e-campaigning research, this study proposes a new theoretical framework to understand, describe, and compare e-campaigning utilisation. This e-campaigning framework has been empirically applied. Notably, the findings suggest that political parties’ e-campaigning utilisation varied markedly beyond information dissemination; although social media was introduced in most parties’ e-campaigning, its interactive nature was barely exploited; and innovative e-campaigning appeared to be the exception rather than the norm. From political science and information systems literature, this study identifies ten factors, encompassing both external and internal aspects as well as various perspectives, to explain e-campaigning utilisation. The findings suggest that those factors in general are empirically relevant, accurate, and adequate. This study concludes that e-campaigning is a complex, contextual, diverse, and dynamic phenomenon. As such, it is difficult, if not impossible, to generalise or predict e-campaigning utilisation; also, a multidisciplinary approach is pivotal to investigating the phenomenon.