Central to this paper is the argument that existing classifications of the ICT and development literature fail to explicitly acknowledge a fundamental duality between two distinct problem domains found within the research body. Through an extensive review of 185 journal articles and conference proceedings, a framework is proposed that suggests a partitioning of the existing literature into two distinct streams of research: (1) those studies that focus on understanding technology “for development”, and (2) those studies that focus on understanding technology “in developing” countries.

More than an exercise in semantics, the authors argue that the two streams represent separate sets of research objectives, which are currently being conflated and addressed interchangeably within the same research environment. At present, there appears to be little recognition or explicit acknowledgement of this branching of research domains, as well as little reflective discussion on the epistemological, methodological and theoretical implications of this delineation.

A discussion related to the efficacy and relevance of the two separate research agendas is provided, along with recommendations for future research directions.