GIS for District-Level Administration in India: Problems and Opportunities

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Abstract

This paper describes a research study, carried out over the period 1993-95, of the efforts made in India to develop and use geographical information systems (GIS) to aid district-level administration. We give a detailed description of our research approach, drawing from contextualism as a broad research methodology and using actor-network theory for analytical purposes. The main section of the paper provides an in-depth analysis of a major GIS initiative from a particular Indian government ministry. We conclude that the creation and maintenance of a relatively stable set of key actors with aligned interests related to the GIS technology had not been achieved in any of the districts studied by the end of the research period. Our analysis leads to implications for future action that go beyond traditional prescriptions, such as improved participation or better training, toward the need for higher level-interventions in such areas as educational processes and administrative structures. We then turn to criteria for judging the merits of an intensive research study and illustrate to what extent this study satisfies the criteria. Finally, we draw conclusions on the contribution of this paper to the promotion of intensive research and to the opening up of new fields of IS research.

Additional Details

Author Geoff Walsham and Sundeep Sahay
Year 1999
Volume 23
Issue 1
Keywords GIS, implementation, India, developing countries, actor-network theory, contextualism, intensive research, IS research agenda
Page Numbers 39-66