A Sociotechnical Approach of eGovernment in Developing Countries: An Analysis of Human Development Outcomes

A Sociotechnical Approach of eGovernment in Developing Countries: An Analysis of Human Development Outcomes

Gabriela Viale Pereira (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil), Marie Anne Macadar (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil) and Maurício Gregianin Testa (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJSS.2016010105
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In the context of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) the capability approach raises questions about the best way to generate human development outcomes through governments' implementation of ICT, encompassing specific demands of the people. Considering that quality of working life was an emergent value for the sociotechnical supporters and could foster human development, this perspective can also be used to explain the use of ICT in government. This research proposes a conceptual model to explain how governments' implementation of ICT contributes to improved human development through a sociotechnical perspective and its alignment with users' needs and expectations. The contribution of this study is the extending of the ICT4D research in a sociotechnical view and its impact in human development. By including the social context in the model, it emphasizes the differences between countries in different levels of development, the differences between users' demands and the differences in human development outcomes.
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The social scenery of human life has been reshaped by the technology revolution on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which is currently recognized as an enabler for national progress and social transformation (Majchrzak, Markus and Wareham, 2013). Considered as a driver of social, economic and political changes, the technological change has elicited public and academic attention through the way it relates to development aspects, such as: social transformation, organizational change, economic growth and public reform (Faik and Walsham, 2013).

Reflecting on Information Systems (IS) field, Walsham (2012) says that researchers should be concerned with how ICT can contribute to a better world, where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to use technologies to provide a better life for themselves, their communities and the world in general. Considering that ICT have a key role in changing how people live, the relationship between ICT and development has been investigated in a new area of study called information and communication for development (ICT4D) (Kleine, 2013; Nijhia and Merali, 2013). Avgerou (2010) suggests that one of the main motivations for ICT4D researchers should be the enhancement of the innovation potential of ICT to contribute towards improving the human condition. Whereas ICT have not met the expectations broadcast on its impact on development, the task of researchers is to understand what it takes to occur (Avgerou, 2010).

Development is essentially the process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy (Sen, 1999). Such freedoms are incorporated by aspects of individual choices and opportunities to get results that they value and have reason to. Since the first global Human Development Report (HDR) in 1990, most countries have registered significant human development. The Report in 2014 also shows that progress is continuing and overall global trends are positive. But natural or human-induced disasters and crises still leads to loss of lives and livelihoods and development are undermined (UNDP, 2014).

The human development approach, developed by the economist Mahbub Ul Haq, is anchored in Amartya Sen’s work on human capabilities. The main idea of human development consists of the image of people fulfilled and happy in their lives and with skills and opportunities to be whatever they want (RDH, 2009). In opposing the assumptions of economic growth, the human development approach suggests that by looking at specific characteristics of people we can see the whole. Human development involves choices and considers what is valued by the people to have better lives and be happier (RDH, 2009).

Nussbaum (2011) believes that the human development paradigm, also called the capability approach, is a theoretical approach in the context of world development. The issue of this paradigm is related to what people are actually able to be and do, i.e., their capabilities (Nussbaum, 2011; Robeyns, 2005). The capability approach is a framework to assess measures of individual and social well-being and to develop policies and proposals for social change (Robeyns, 2005). According to Robeyns (2005), in the context of developing countries, this approach can be used both in the analysis of social cost-benefit and in the design of policies for the societies welfare or development by governments. In the context of ICT4D, Dorothea Kleine (2010, 2011, 2013) translates Sen's approach into policy analysis and ethnographic work on technology adaptation.

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