The Unintended Consequence: The Symbiotic Relationship between ICT and a National Transition

The Unintended Consequence: The Symbiotic Relationship between ICT and a National Transition

Hamid Nemati (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA) and Amna Latif (Tarbiyah Islamic School of Delaware, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0882-5.ch706
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Abstract

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are an important factor in the socio-economic development of transitioning and developing countries. Given the importance of ICT in global social and economic development, many researchers have examined its development and growth strategies from national and governmental policy perspectives. However, understanding the consequences of information and communication technologies in developing countries is complex and far from certain. Given the ambiguity, complexity, and diversity of what constitutes ICT, Heeks (2002) suggested the existence of incongruencies between what policy makers envision as ICT and the actuality of what is ultimately manifested, proposing the “design-actuality gap” framework to understand this inconsistency. Baqir et al. (2009) extended the design-actuality gap framework to show that the dimensions of design maybe different than those of the actuality, but did not provide an explanation for this gap. In this paper, the authors posit that the gap can only be explained based on the law of “unintended consequence” (Merton, 1936). This phenomenon can best be seen in developing nations where ICT’s impact on socio-economic development is exaggerated. The authors present the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran and show how the law of unintended consequence can explain the major chasm that exists between ICT development and the actuality of use.

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