Power and the Construction of Independence in ICTD Organizations

Kate M. Kenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
212 Downloads (Pure)


How do powerful vested interests continue to influence ICT for development (ICTD) projects? In this paper, instead of adopting a macro-level analysis, I take an in-depth, ethnographic approach to focus on work practices at one NGO involved in producing information and communication technologies for use in developing countries. Staff decisions at this NGO were influenced by particular powerful organizations, and I draw on theoretical insights from organization studies in order to understand this. The approach yields surprising results. Staff members appeared able to "stand back" from the pressures coming from donors and other influential parties, and to critically reflect upon these. Paradoxically, rather than fueling resistance, this sense of independence appeared to reinforce dependency on these powerful organizations. Moreover, the fact that this NGO was engaged in ICTD work further heightened these effects. This study extends existing understandings of how power operates within ICTD organizations, by highlighting the ways in which a sense of independence can paradoxically exacerbate donor influence over work activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-22
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Technology for Development
Issue number1
Early online date04 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • ICTD
  • independence
  • organizations
  • participant observation
  • power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Development
  • Public Administration


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