Support Networks for Rural and Regional Communities

Support Networks for Rural and Regional Communities

Tom Denison (Monash University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-272-5.ch016


Using a case study approach, this chapter examines the role of organizational networks in the success and failure of information and communications technology projects. Within a framework informed by the literature of information systems failure, the diffusion of innovation and social network analysis; it argues that information systems projects must take into account the social context in which they are implemented. To be successful such networks require a mix of extended and locally based support networks, because they provide access to much needed resources, including innovations, strategic advice, training, and support at the appropriate level. It further argues that the people who are working in a regional setting felt themselves to be in an extremely disadvantageous situation because they typically lacked support from similar networks. The author hopes that highlighting the importance of such support networks will lead to a better understanding of systems failure and success, and will contribute to improved policy formulation and practice.
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Information Systems Failure

There is a significant body of literature that has been found discussing the causes of information systems failure from a project management perspective, for example, the work of Lyytinen and Hirschheim (1987), Keil, Cule, Lyytinen, and Schmidt (1998), and Schmidt, Lyytinen, Keil, and Cule (2001). These have tended to focus on management issues, such as the lack of top management commitment to the project, failure to gain user commitment, misunderstanding the requirements, lack of adequate user involvement, lack of required knowledge/skills in the project personel and lack of frozen requirements (Schmidt et al., 2001) although recently there has been significant interest in concepts such as learning organizations (Lyytinen & Robey, 1999) and their role in nurturing projects. The main thrust of the literature, however, relates to the ability of large organisations to successfully undertake new systems development.

Given its importance, the focus of this chapter is to assist those who seek to implement information systems in regional areas, specifically in the creation of the infrastructure or framework necessary for the successful diffusion and sustainability of technology. It complements the work of others such as Kling (2000) and Orlikowski (2000) who, having recognised that technology is not socially neutral, have attempted to broaden the understanding of the factors that contribute to systems failure by considering the social context in which information systems are implemented. The importance of such an approach has clearly been recognised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Evaluation Office which identified six generic challenges that critically affect ICT for development initiatives: awareness; politics; access; relevancy and meaningful use; sustainability; and coordination (UNDP, 2001).

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