Theories Informing ICT4D Research and Practice

February 16, 2016 16:15 - 17:00

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Mathias Hatakka
Devinder Thapa
Øystein Sæbø
Maung K. Sein



Maung Sein, University of Agder, Norway and Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

The role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in fostering development of underdeveloped countries is now widely accepted. The debate is not on whether this happens, but rather on how it happens. This is a challenge with which research in ICT4D has been grappling over the years. As a community, we can be reasonably satisfied that while there are areas for improvement, we are doing relevant research and we have a healthy relationship with practice mainly because our research approach is proactive and interventionist.

So, why this panel? Many theories have been adopted to interpret the findings of the several cases that reported ICT4D projects around the world. Yet, the plethora of theories has not provided us with a systematic and clear picture, and, a coherent narrative. As a result, we are yet to build cumulative knowledge on ICT4D. The research community needs theories to discover the link between ICT and development. Such theories can inform research and be the basis for guiding practice. In this panel, we aim to sort through the “theory maze”.

Each panelist will present a core theory that is essential to inform research in ICT4D.

  • Mathias Hatakka will present the Capability Approach, which is a way to conceptualize development.
  • Øystein Sæbø will present Affordance theory to conceptualize ICT.
  • To explain how the affordances of ICT are harnessed by key stakeholders to build capabilities, Devinder Thapa will present Actor Network Theory (ANT). The transformation is done by leveraging social capital to promote collective action.