Developers of software applications entering new markets want to know: “Where are our users (more formally, which actors in which organizations will benefit from using our products)? Where do they need our products (more formally, in which processes will the actors benefit from using the products)? Where are our customers (more formally, who has the authority to decide on introducing the products into the processes)?”
Similarly, Information Systems researchers starting to study a phenomenon in a context new to them need to understand the broad socio-political and organizational landscape around the actual object of research. This is particularly important when the same phenomenon is being studied in different countries – if differences in the broader context are not recognized, it is impossible to compare the results.
Most Information Systems theories, methods and textbooks are developed in the “North” (North America, Europe, Australia), in wealthy societies and mainly in the context of big private business – although often considered “universal”. Practitioners, educators and researchers in the South work in contexts that can be very different from the “universal” in terms of economy, political structures, cultures, infrastructures, education, etc. They need to be able to identify and understand the differences and similarities between the “universal” and their actual context.
Korpela, Mikko; de la Harpe, Retha; and Luukkonen, Irmeli, "Depicting the Landscape around Information Flows: Methodological Propositions" (2008). GlobDev 2008. 5.