10/8/18

Four steps to identify mechanisms of ICT4D: A critical realism‐based methodology

Questions such as ‘What is ICT?’ and ‘What is development?’ are relatively well‐answered and well‐documented in literature but work connecting the two has been limited. Existing ICT4D studies tend to be descriptive or prescriptive in nature, and hence the explanation of how and why ICT works in the contexts of developing countries needs further investigation. ICT cannot by itself lead to development: it has to be deployed by actors in a given social, political, cultural, and technical context, under conditions at the time of deployment. The interplay of the above‐mentioned elements in any given development situation relies on underlying mechanisms that may explain how and why ICT leads to development. Therefore, it is important to investigate questions like “What mechanisms link ICT and development?” and “How do we identify these mechanisms?”. To research and answer these questions, we propose a critical realism‐based four‐step methodological approach. The core idea of the critical realism‐based approach suggested in this study is to identify the underlying mechanism (s), particularly in ICT4D contexts, to explain how and why ICT leads to development. We illustrate the proposed methodology by applying it in a case study from Nepal.

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8/22/18

A holistic perspective on the theoretical foundations for ICT4D research

While many theories have guided research Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), we are yet to construct a clear and coherent narrative that would help us answer the question of how ICT fosters development in underdeveloped communities. In this paper, we argue that one of the main reasons for this is that our holistic understanding of ICT4D is seldom grounded in theories to understand the core areas that define the field, namely, ICT, Development, and, ‘4’ which are the transformative processes that link the two. Through a brief literature review, we list theories that have informed ICT4D research in each of these areas. We present examples of theories, namely, Capability Approach, Affordances, and Actor-Network Theory together with Social Capital and illustrate how we have used them in our research. Building on this holistic perspective on theoretical foundation, we propose five agendas for ICT4D research.

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8/10/18

Social capital in enabling quality health care: The case of a telemedicine project in Nepal

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a crucial role in meeting multifaceted developmental challenges such as providing access to quality health care in developing countries. Initiatives such as telemedicine have been vital in bringing health care to marginalized groups in remote areas of such countries. While the implementation and effects of telemedicine projects have been studied in the literature, the actual mechanisms and conditions that facilitate the process have seldom been addressed. In this paper, we present an interpretive case study of a telemedicine project in a remote mountainous region of Nepal. Our findings indicate that it was the action of a group of focal actors who leveraged a supportive social capital that resulted in successfully bringing in quality health care to marginalized groups in these remote villages. Our findings reveal social capital as a facilitating condition through which ICT can play a crucial role in meeting developmental challenges such as quality health care.

1/31/18

An ecological model of bridging the digital divide in education: A case study of OLPC deployment in Nepal

Techno-centric initiatives to bridge the digital divide, such as One Laptop per Child (OLPC), has been criticized for not taking a holistic approach that has led to limited success in providing quality education in developing countries. Particular emphasis is placed on examining the context in Information and communication technology for development (ICTD) initiatives. In this paper, we applied the theoretical lens of information ecology to conceptualize context to conduct a case study of Open Learning Exchange Nepal, which has been described as one of the few successes in implementing OLPC. Our findings show that it is not the technology per se (OLPC in this case), but its ecosystem that brought quality education in schools of remote mountain regions of Nepal.

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9/19/17

Trajectory of Affordances: Insights from a case of telemedicine in Nepal

Abstract
Although Affordance Theory has become increasingly influential in the Information Systems (IS) literature, the exact process through which the affordances of IT are actualised is less studied. In this paper, we build on a realist ontology of affordance and an interpretive epistemology of how affordances are perceived and actualised to trace the process of actualisation. On the basis of insights drawn from a case study of a telemedicine project in a remote mountainous region of Nepal, we develop a concept, which we call the “Trajectory of Affordances.” Trajectory of Affordances captures the complex relations between affordances of IT and the role of goal-oriented actors who perceive and then play a vital role in actualising them, using capabilities that are enabled by facilitating conditions to take the necessary action. Trajectory of Affordances shows that the affordances of IT can travel from perception to actualisation through multiple paths, sometimes clustering together, and in the process, often lead to the emergence of new affordances.