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ICT, Local Government Capacity Building, and Civic Engagement: An Evaluation of the Sample Initiative in Ghana

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For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

This paper evaluates a local Regional Network (LRNet) in one of Ghana's administrative regions; the purpose of the network is to enhance the capacity of the local government to perform its functions, promote transparency, and serve as a mechanism for civic engagement in the political process. I adopt Zhu's WSR approach as a conceptual model for this analysis, which examines, within a concrete setting, the nature, challenges, and outcomes that emanate from the intersection of the dual paradigm shifts in information technology and the reinvention of government. The case study concludes that there is a significant expectation-perception gap between the project's intent and its outcomes. The findings strongly support the view that computers by themselves cannot achieve organizational goals if the necessary enabling environment does not support them. It is clear from this study that ICTs do not function in a socio-cultural, political, and economic vacuum. Their efficacy is contingent on the various forces and realities that coalesce to shape the environment into which they are introduced. While the technologies may be designed in a way that allows them to perform certain functions, it is the decisions, orientations, and attitudes of human beings, as well as the resource capabilities of the organizations, which ultimately determine the success of IT undertakings. Therefore, organizations employing the ICTs must appreciate the limitations of an instrumental perspective that focuses only on the "digital messiah" as the panacea for organizational problems and the sole catalyst for government reinvention.


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