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.


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

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.


Methodological Approach for Identifying Mechanisms in ICT4D: A Critical Realism Perspective

The ontological questions ‘What is ICT?’ and ‘What is development?’ are described and documented in literature. Similarly, methodological approaches for understanding how ICT leads to development or for measuring the impact of ICT are described. However, explaining ‘why’ ICT works or not in the contexts of developing countries needs further investigation. We propose a critical realism based methodological approach for answering the above mentioned ‘why’-question. The core of a critical realism based approach is to identify the underlying mechanism(s) that may explain a phenomenon of why ICT leads to development. We demonstrate the proposed methodology through applying it on a case in an ICT4D context from Nepal.

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Understanding ICT in ICT4D: An Affordance Perspective

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.