Public Administration and Information and Communication Technologies: The Case of the Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation

Public Administration and Information and Communication Technologies: The Case of the Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation

Shefali Virkar (Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/ijpada.2014040103


This article critically examines the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in governmental reform processes in development through a case study of the Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation. The study explores the increasing use of ICTs for property taxation and its impact on municipal government reform processes within a developing world context. Attracted by the ‘hype and hope' of such technologies and related platforms, development actors across the world have adopted computer-based systems and related ICTs for use in government as a means reforming the inefficiencies in public service provision. Much has been written about e-governance within a growing stream of literature on ICT for development, generating countervailing perspectives where optimistic, technocratic approaches are countered by far more sceptical standpoints on technological innovation. This paper will examine not only the interplay of local contingencies and external influences acting upon the project's implementation but also aim to offer an insight into disjunctions in these relationships which inhibit the effective exploitation of ICTs in the given context. The research on which this paper is based focus on an empirical case study surrounding the implementation and use of an electronic property tax collection system in Bangalore, India between 1998 and 2008. Drawing on the theoretical perspectives of the ‘Ecology of Games' and ‘Design-Actuality Gaps' which recognise the importance of a multitude of diverse motives and individualistic behaviour as key factors influencing organisational reform and institutional change, the article contributes not just to an understanding of the role of ICTs in administrative reform in development, but towards that emerging body of research which is critical of managerial rationalism for an organization as a whole, and sensitive to an ecology of actors and their various motivations within the organisation.
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Understanding Actor Behaviour

The central issue that needs to be understood whilst studying project outcome through an analysis of actor interactions is thus: Why do people do what they do? One approach to understanding behaviour is to look at the rationality of individual actors, rather than the system as a whole. This is largely because political actors are driven by a combination of organisational and institutional roles and duties and calculated self-interest, with political interaction being organised around the construction and interpretation of meaning as well as the making of choices. It thus can be extremely difficult to transplant new technologies and ways of working into organisations (March & Olsen, 1989).

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