ICT4D: ICTs and Sustainable Development Minitrack
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In 2012 Walsham published an article with the question “Are we making a better world with ICTs?”. Walsham encouraged the information systems community to explore how ICTs could help improve individual capabilities and opportunities to use technology to improve their lives. These questions are at the core of the Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) field that focuses on the use of ICT to foster positive changes for individuals, communities or nations. The focus is on the lives of the poor and marginalized by improving their economy, health, security, education and so on. The field is multidisciplinary and often includes theories from fields such as information systems, development studies, business and political science.
That ICTs can foster a positive development is now widely accepted in the research community. The question now is rather how ICT can contribute to the betterment of the poor and marginalized. The mechanics and processes by which ICT lead to development is not fully understood. There is also a shortage in the understanding of the role of different stakeholders in development efforts using ICT. International donor agencies, national government and non-government organizations (NGOs) all play an important role. But we need a clearer understanding on the effectiveness of different development efforts undertaken by the different actors, and the role that different actors can and should have in the development process. We welcome theoretical and conceptual discussions as well as empirical studies. The papers should strive to provide future guidance to the field. We do not only look for success stories; criticism of the field and of existing approaches may be just as insightful as guidance for future efforts.
Minitrack topics include, but are not limited to:
- The role of government and NGOs in ICT4D
- The role that the international community should play
- The role of national ICT policies for development
- The role of social media in ICT4D
- The role of champions and mediators
- Cases of government-led ICT4D implementations in developing countries
- What are the theories that should be used in the assessment of ICT4D projects
- What are the theories that should guide ICT4D research and practice
- What are the theories to understand the role of technology in development
- How ICTs can enable people participate in political discourses to encourage change
- How ICT4D interventions can be measures and assessed
- How ICT can be instrumental to facilitate sustainable development
Devinder Thapa (Primary Contact)
University of Agder, Norway
Dalarna University, Sweden
ItemUnderstanding the Role of Technology in the Development of Micro-Enterprises: Concepts to Study in Making a Better World( 2017-01-04)The concept of Development has alluded scholars and practitioners when information technology becomes prevalent. The majority of research in the Information Technology for Development (ICT4D) field is considered to be practice intended to make the world better with Information and Communications technologies (ICTs). In addition, a majority of well-intentioned ICT4D projects tend to fail, often due to unrealistic expectation set by development agencies responding to their political objectives. At the same time, Information Systems (IS) research is ripe with well-studied concepts that do little to make a better world. \ This paper investigates ICT interventions in three case studies of micro-enterprises operating in low resource environments. Two of the Native American micro-enterprises are taken through a set of technology and training interventions while one receives no interventions. The role of information technology in the development of micro-enterprises is analyzed to offer new concepts that can be studied to offer contributions to make a better world. \
ItemUnderstanding ICT in ICT4D: An Affordance Perspective( 2017-01-04)Understanding the role of ICT for development is at the core of ICT4D research. However, prevailing research in this field most often focuses on access or readiness of a technology, or on the outcomes of the technology use. Less attention has been paid to understand the mechanism of the technology use that leads to the outcomes. The question of why ICT in a development context sometimes work and sometimes does not work still remains a subject of enquiry. To enhance our understanding in this regard, we propose to use the concept of affordances to unfold the “black boxed” nature of ICT. We revisited a case from Kenya to illustrate the application of affordances in a ICT4D context. The findings show that the benefits of ICT can be harnessed only if the users in the underprivileged communities can perceive and actualize the affordances of the ICT. However, what is ICT affordances, and how people perceive and actualize the affordances in the context of developing countries are the issues that we delve in this paper.
ItemToward an Assessment of Cultural Relativity and Impacts of ICT Interventions: Assessing ICT4D at the National Level( 2017-01-04)Technological innovations have a momentous impact on society. Research has explored the role of culture and decision-making on IT development and diffusion. However, to-date, few studies have examined the role of ICT impacts and culture on IT decision-making in developing countries. In this conceptual paper, we integrate Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and the Decision Style Inventory into ICT for Development security impact assessment frameworks. In particular, we use the proposed solution artifacts to assess the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility (CIA) security risks for a developing country. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
ItemThe Power of Participatory Photography in ICTD Programs: Freedom to Explore beyond Images( 2017-01-04)We discuss the contribution of participatory photography as a method to elicit lived experiences from the perspectives of participants, a valuable tool in ICTD research. Building on a participatory photography research project with Latino migrants in Seattle, Washington (USA) and at the US-Mexico border, we analyze the differences between descriptive accounts and interpretations of photographs offered by participants. By opening new possibilities for self-expression, participatory photography offers a powerful tool that allows participants to add not just description but also context, representations, meanings, feelings and memories, among other interpretations. Different effects of the participants’ photographs are also analyzed, to encourage further exploration of participatory photography in ICTD research.
ItemFacebook's "Free Basics" and Implications for Development: IT Identity and Social Capital( 2017-01-04)Facebook's Free Basics has been controversial among researchers in the fields of information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) and community informatics (CI). What is the nature of Free Basics' potential contribution to individual and community development? We explore this question by analyzing different uses of Facebook—one of the forefront services provided through Free Basics—and their relation to information technology (IT) identity and social capital. We find that, while issues and concerns surrounding Free Basics exist—e.g. restrictions on participants' choices in accessing and using information, possible privacy risks, and potential societal costs—there is room for positive aspects in broader use of Facebook, despite its potential pitfalls. We suggest ways to analyze both the contradictions and contributions of Free Basics to individual and community development, and examine implications for ICTD and sustainable development in general.
ItemAn Analysis of Aid Information Management Systems (AIMS) in Developing Countries: Explaining the Last Two Decades( 2017-01-04)Aid information management systems (AIMS) are information and communication technology (ICT) applications that enable donors and recipient governments to open and share aid data. Despite the popularity of AIMS and current trends favouring ‘open aid’, little research has been conducted in the field of ICT in the international aid sector. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical discussion of AIMS. To achieve these objectives, the study explores 75 AIMS which have been implemented in 70 developing countries over the last two decades. Drawing on the idea of institutional isomorphism, this study offers a historical overview of AIMS and explains their driving forces and evolution. By using content analysis, it also provides an understanding of the main rhetoric inscribed in AIMS and how this has changed over time. In spite of significant attention given to new technologies and heavy investments made in AIMS, many cases have not achieved the anticipated outcomes that the rhetoric of AIMS promised, and even failed to reach sustainability (43%). The analysis enables us to highlight the complexity of problems surrounding AIMS. This calls for a new approach to the way we promote and implement AIMS, as well as more in-depth study to understand institutional and political challenges in each context.