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.
- participant observation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science Applications
- Public Administration