Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Social protection systems, a target of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are intended to reduce extreme poverty, build human capital, and protect against risks to sustainable livelihoods and well-being. As social protection systems are by their nature inherently complex, multi-faceted, and socially embedded, it is inevitable that tensions will emerge between their design and implementation, representing design-reality gaps. These tensions present an excellent opportunity for cross-disciplinary research, by understanding how best to bridge these design-reality gaps. In this qualitative, interpretivist case study, we situate our work on the ground with the actors involved in the design, implementation, and use of a social protection system in Zimbabwe. We find interaction failures amongst some users; design-reality gaps around network access and ICT policy implementation; as well as mixed views regarding transparency and accountability of ICT. Our findings provide rich insights from ICT users in the global south and underscore the importance of the co-creation of IS interventions together with communities to ensure technologies consider social, political, economic, and network realities. We conclude by providing directions for future research.





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