A case study from Implementing IS in the Ethiopian public health care system
This paper adopts a novel learning perspective on information systems development. Building on the works of Anselm Strauss we conceptualize development processes as “negotiated orders” where members from different “social worlds” encounter and negotiate differences and tensions. We argue that processes of inquiry and action are interwoven, and this is what facilitates and stimulates learning. Based on a case study where different versions of open source software was customized, further developed and implemented in the Ethiopian public health care system, this paper explores the interplay between participation, politics and learning in IS implementation and use. We consider learning to be an integral part of the social practice, and it occurs mainly through encounters and negotiations between actors from different social worlds who might have competing interests and values. The paper also analysed how the software in question functioned as a boundary object, not just in the traditional sense by facilitating cooperation among these actors. An even more significant role of the boundary object was in bringing the existing differences to the foreground and thus stimulating negotiations and learning. As such, this paper contributes to three discourses: organizational learning, boundary objects and health information systems in developing countries in particular and more specifically to IS implementation in settings with scarce resources, heterogeneous stakeholders, and diverse interests.
Information and Organization, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 4, p. 233-257
IS development, Learning, Participation, power relations, social worlds, public health systems, developing countries, Ethiopia