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Whose gain is it anyway? Structurational perspectives on deploying ICTs for development in India's microfinance sector

Rahul De and Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan

Abstract

The idea of information and communication technology (ICT) being a “hammer” that can be applied to a wide variety of “nails” across different geographic locations, sectors, organizations, and contexts to improve efficiency and/or have a beneficial social impact has come under severe criticism, particularly in the realm of implementing socioeconomic development programs. Structuration theory remains one of the key metatheories that deconstruct the complexity of technology introductions in the context of organizational and behavioral change. In this study, we use a structurational lens to examine two pilot ICT implementations in the Indian microfinance sector, specifically exploring the interactions between the ICT intervention, the organizations and people implementing the change, and the structural and institutional context within which these projects were rolled out. We showcase how an “ICT for development” intervention is inherently a political process, involving choices around defining efficiency and targeting particular social welfare improvements, with varying repercussions for the involved microfinance institution and client. Where the client's context, constraints, and welfare are placed at the heart of the “efficiency” discussion during the technology's design and implementation, the development impact is seen to be far greater and more sustained.

Details

Publication typeArticle
Published inInformation Technology for Development
PublisherWiley
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