Research Papers

Abstract

How to theorize the role of information and communication technologies in socioeconomic development remains a pressing concern in the ICT4D community. The plethora of potentially applicable theories calls out for integration, and recent integrative frameworks understandably assign to ICTs a prominent driving role in bringing about development outcomes. Despite its obvious appeal, that research strategy places heavy demand on theorists to articulate the generative potential of ICTs. This paper outlines an alternative, and possibly less demanding, research strategy that gives development processes the central role and conceptualizes ICT as an intervention into those processes. The research strategy is illustrated by examining how digitalization of finance contributes to finance-related development pathways that are hoped to promote social inclusion and socioeconomic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. While the proposed strategy does not fit all ICT4D phenomena and research questions, it can simplify theorizing while preserving contextual richness and enabling contingent generalizations.

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