Management Information Systems Quarterly


Satish K. Puri


IS design and development processes by their very nature involve a multiplicity of knowledge systems, including the technology itself, the methodologies for system development, and knowledge relating to the application domain. When IS is used to advance socio-economic development in less developed countries (LDCs), there are additional sources contributing to this multiplicity. In the case of land management applications, it is important to consider the knowledge that communities have of the land they inhabit. This paper stresses the importance of constructing knowledge alliances between these multiple knowledge systems in order to support more effective IS development and implementation. The term "knowledge alliance" refers not merely to the material characteristics of the knowledge inscribed in technology, but also to the indigenous knowledge of the various communities involved. This includes the social setting that has shaped the practices which are responsible for the communities’ production, articulation and use of knowledge. Two key theoretical concepts, namely boundary objects and participation, are drawn upon both to understand the multiplicity of knowledge systems and to suggest possible approaches to the creation of effective knowledge alliances. The empirical setting for this analysis is a study of the use of GIS for land management in India. This research is not of merely theoretical significance, but also carries important practical implications for scientists and administrators involved in the development of IS, particularly in LDCs.