Public ICT innovations: a strategic ambiguity perspective
journal contributionposted on 26.03.2015, 14:26 by M.N. RavishankarM.N. Ravishankar
Public Information and Communications Technology (ICT) innovations are seen as having the potential to usher in a new era of technology-enabled models of governance in emerging economies. While it may be desirable for the implementation of such innovations to be underpinned by precise planning, structure and clarity, policy implementers in emerging economies are confronted instead by situations where ambiguous goals and means are standard. This paper considers high levels of ambiguity as a relatively enduring and intrinsic aspect of public ICT innovations in emerging economies. Drawing on an ethnographic study of Bangalore one, an innovative public ICT project implemented in Bangalore, India, the paper examines how strategic ambiguity is deployed by key public actors to chart the course of the implementation process and to steer it towards reasonable outcomes. Theoretically, the paper suggests that although strategic ambiguity is a precarious and unsettling condition in general, it can work effectively in contexts that are reasonably tolerant of ambiguous norms. The findings of the study also present arguments for why evaluation mechanisms need to be fundamentally reframed in order to assess the extent of implementation success of public ICT innovations in emerging economies.
- Business and Economics