Title

Let's fix the plumbing. Information technology and bureaucratic reform: A case from India

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Information Management and Technology

Advisor(s)

Murali Venkatesh

Keywords

Institutional Theory, E-governance, Enterpreneurship, Social Construction of Technology, Information technology, Bureaucratic reform

Subject Categories

Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This case study investigates the development, implementation and institutionalization of the Fund Based Accounting System (FBAS) by the Bangalore City Corporation, an urban local administrative body. FBAS is part of the Bangalore City Corporation's effort to use information technology for good governance. The use of information technology to enable governance, or e-governance, is premised on the notion that information technology can be used to reconfigure relations among various government departments as well as between governments and other stakeholders such as the private sector and civil society. The overarching research question can be articulated as: given that FBAS was proposed to institute new relational patterns across organizations and sectors, has this actually happened, if so, how and if not, why not.

The case study uses Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Institutional Theory as the theoretical lenses to focus on how groups involved in the project developed a shared understanding of the problem, the consequent solution and the process by which the system sought to bring about a change in way the Bangalore City Corporation functions, both internally and with other stakeholders. In depth interviews with key informants was the primary data elicitation technique. Secondary data in the form of media reports, manuals, legislation, strategy documents and project review documents supplemented the data collected via the interviews. Data analysis followed the hermeneutic-interpretive method.

The findings reveal that the groups involved in the project tapped into exiting notions of good governance which translated into the need for timely, accurate and structured information for decision making. This problem definition led to the recognition that fundamental to transforming the way the Bangalore City Corporation works is a reform in its financial management systems. Importantly, the results highlight the pivotal role played by institutional entrepreneurs in bringing about change. These institutional entrepreneurs create paths by temporally sequencing events. They ensure the institutionalization of these paths by creating "social entanglements" (Selznick, 1996) which embeds the practice in the routine day-to-day functioning of the organization.

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