Purpose ‐ This paper aims to thoroughly review the research literature concerning e-service in the public sector (2000-2009) for the purpose of summarising and synthesising the arguments and ideas of the main contributors to the development of e-service research
and explore the different perspectives. In addition, the paper attempts to identify the key characteristics of e-service; and to gather conceptual perspectives on the nature, scope, and transformation to e-service. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A classification of
the relevant publications that are concerned with the theory and application of e-service is presented together with potential future research areas. Findings ‐ Most of the literature has focused on the underlying perspectives of approaches to e-service. It clearly
acknowledges that contextual issues and factors influence e-service. However, there is still no standard definition of the concept and vagueness about what exactly e-service is, creating confusion and comparability issues, and making it difficult for researchers to build on each others' work.
In addition, the key underlying theme throughout the literature is that e-service in the public sector necessitates closer working relationships between government stakeholders. Originality/value ‐ By reviewing the relevant publications, the paper develops a clear
articulation of the concept, nature, boundaries, components, and elements of e-service which is significant in order to understand the e-service research better and manage e-service in the public sector. With a rapid growth in the volume of research output on the topic of e-service, the paper
considers different viewpoints, theories, and methods in e-service research to date to draw conclusions about current status and possible future directions for e-service in the public sector.