Track chairs

  • Richard Heeks (richard.heeks[at], University of Manchester, UK)
  • Devinder Thapa (devinder.thapa[at], University of Agder, Norway)
  • PJ Wall (wallp2[at], Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)

Overview of the Research area

From the turn of the 21st century, there has been an ever-growing body of research which examines the role of information and communication technologies in socioeconomic development (ICT4D). Within this body of work, explicit consideration of research philosophy generally and of specific research paradigms is rare (Gomez & Day 2013). However, analysis has been undertaken to infer the paradigms being used which finds that interpretivist and positivist approaches dominate the current body of ICT4D research (Walsham & Sahay 2006, Gomez & Day 2013). Alongside generic concerns about the limitations imposed by this philosophical duopoly, each of these two paradigms individually has a number of limitations which constrain ICT4D research. Recognition of these limitations has resulted in a growing appetite for new or alternative research paradigms, methods, theories and philosophy in ICT4D (Heeks & Wall 2017).

Given the magnitude of the growth in the field of ICT4D (Gomez 2013) and the claim that the ICT4D field is reaching maturity (Patra, Pal & Nedevschi 2009), combined with the limitations of the interpretivist and positivist approaches which dominate the current body of ICT4D research, we propose that discussion of new philosophical, theoretical and methodological approaches to ICT4D are becoming increasingly important in the field.

Exemplar topics and types of contributions looked-for

Topics of interest to the track include, but are not limited to:

  • Specific discussion of research paradigms used in ICT4D research including interpretivism, positivism and critical realism.
  • New research methods, theories and philosophies in ICT4D, especially those emerging from researchers based in the Global South.
  • Reviews of ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues in ICT4D research.
  • Conceptual discussions on new and emerging theories in the ICT4D domain.
  • Evaluations and critiques of trends in ICT4D research, from an ontological, methodological or theoretical perspective.
  • Theoretical perspectives that build on existing theoretical paradigms to extend them into new theoretical arguments.

The Criteria for evaluating papers within this track as follows: Does the paper push the boundaries of the field in terms of research paradigms, research methods, theory and philosophy; is there a significant theoretical extension to the literature in the paper, and does it advance a set of theoretical and philosophical arguments; is there a clear methodological contribution; and is the paper novel, in the sense that there are no exemplars of similar work within recent ICT4D published research?

References and bibliography

Gomez, R. 2013. "The Changing Field of ICTD: Growth and maturation of the field, 2000-2010." The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries no. 58.

Gomez, R. & Day, S.A. (2013) Research questions, paradigms and methods in ICT for development, in: Into the Future, N. Hayes & R.L. La Rovere (eds), IFIP WG9.4, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, 301-317.

Heeks, R., & Wall, PJ. (2017). Critical realism and ICT4D research. Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Yogyakarta, 22-24 May 2017.

Patra, R., J. Pal, and S. Nedevschi. 2009. ICTD state of the union: Where have we reached and where are we headed? Paper read at Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2009, at Doha.

Walsham, G. & Sahay, S. (2006) Research on information systems in developing countries, Information Technology for Development, 12(1), 7-24.