The Games People Play: The Politics of Software Platform Development and ICT Project Design for Public Sector Administration Reform

The Games People Play: The Politics of Software Platform Development and ICT Project Design for Public Sector Administration Reform

Shefali Virkar (University of Oxford, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6485-2.ch004
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Much has been written about e-government 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 chapter seeks to, through the use of a case study, unravel the social dynamics shaping e-government projects used to reform public sector institutions. In particular, the research analyzes actor behaviour, motivations, and interactions surrounding the conception and maintenance of software platforms facilitating these transformations. The value of such an approach is based on a review of existing ICT and software development literature, which tends to be overly systems-rational in its approach and, as a consequence, often fails to recognise the degree to which project failure (viz. the general inability of the project design to meet stated goals and resolve both predicted and emerging problems) is symptomatic of a broader, much more complex set of interrelated inequalities, unresolved problems, and lopsided power-relationships both within the adopting organisation and in the surrounding environmental context.
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Research Methodology

The ultimate aim of this chapter is thus to contribute to the development of a conceptual framework that is relevant to policy discussions of e-government software platform design and maintenance within not only an Indian, but also a broader global context. In order to augment theoretical discussions of administrative reform in a digitised world, this chapter uses a case study to explore its central research issues, within which a mixed methods approach using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data was selected in order to inform and strengthen the understanding of the relationships between the actors, inputs, and project outputs. The aim of the study was, therefore, to evolve ideas that could be generalised across similar situations and the research was consequently developed in the following steps:

  • In-depth review of existing theoretical perspectives and literature surrounding corruption and tax evasion, ICTs and public administration, and property tax reform.

  • Qualitative analysis of official documents

  • Collection and analysis of quantitative data relevant to the case

  • Developing case studies through in-depth personal interviews

  • Data analysis and interpretation

  • Preparation of conclusions and their validation

  • Recommendations for the future

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