GIS for district-level administration in India / Walsham & Sahay (1999)

Citation - Walsham G., & Sahay, S. (1999). GIS for District-Level Administration in India: Problems and Opportunities. MIS Quarterly, 23(1), 39-65.

Keyword -


Research approach

  • Research Questions:
    1. How GIS being used in India district-level administration ?
    2. were their use was successful ?
    3. the reason for success or failure.
  • Research goals:
    1. “to study the initiation, development, and implementation of GIS technology in particular field sites by examining in detail the actions and perceptions of human actors and the context within which these actions took place and perceptions were formed.”
    2. “to place emphasis on both stability and change and to try to understand how actors' systems of meaning, aspects of their power relations, and their shared or contested norms of behavior resulted in particular outcomes.”
    3. “to investigate both the intended and unintended consequences of the action taken by actors and the way in which their reflections on these consequences changed or maintained their perceptions and thus influenced their future actions.”
  • Methodology (how data collected):
    • longitudinal study: collected 3 years data of GIS project (1993-1995)
    • collected historical data before 1993 from archival documents and recollections, largely on 1991-1993 in MOEF.
  • Theory (how data analyzed):
  • ANT:
    • Define: “Actor-network theory examines the motivations and actions of actors who form elements, linked by associations, of heterogeneous networks of aligned interests. A key feature of the theory is that actors (or actants as they are sometimes labeled) are taken to include both human beings and nonhuman actors such as technological artifacts. A major focus of the theory when applied in particular contexts is to try to trace and explain the processes whereby relatively stable networks of aligned interests are created and maintained, or alternatively to examine why such networks fail to establish themselves. Successful networks of aligned interests are created through the enrollment of a sufficient body of allies and the translation of their interests so that they are willing to participate in particular ways of thinking and acting that maintain the network.”
      • <is>:透過對行動者網路中的元件、連結關係、整合利益(趣向)的異質網路,以審視其行動與動機。
      • 其主要特色,是其「行動者/作用者(actor, actant)」可以是人,也可以是非人,如技術性製品。
      • 其主要應用於,解釋 [聚合利益的相對穩定網路]建立與維護 的 過程,或研究此網路無法建立的原因。
      • 其主要論點(argument):成功的聚合利益網路,是透過於特定聚合體上的結盟,以及對各自利益的轉換;因此他們願意 以特定的思考與活動方式 參與網路的維護。
  • Method
    • (how is research going on data collection):
      • Projects: examined 10 GIS projects in MOEF, and detailed in 5. 6 projects out of MOEF.
      • Interviews: 127 formal interveiws on 105 personnel.
        • A typical interview took 1.5 to 2 hours.
        • 2 researchers have interview notes, but type-recording was used infrequently, and not at all in the later stages.
      • Field trips: 5.
      • Other data collections: system demonstrations, archival data in the from of reports and filed documents, informal contact with personnel outside the formal interviews,
      • Research access: through the GIS project director in MOEF.
      • Researcher national: the main researcher is India national, the other is UK national.
    • (how is research going on data analysis):
      • Document summarizing of field visits and emerging themes were produced after each project stage.
      • Open-ended interview: by Grounded theory
    • (the researcher's role)
      • from a “independent observer”, and gradually became more involved in.

MOEF case study

  • Facts:
    • 8 scientific institution, 10 GIS project for wasteland development.
    • 1986, 1989(USAIS), 1990(India visit US), 1991(Phase 1), 1994(Phase 2)
  • Phase 1:
    • “The detailed models and systems developed by the institutions tended to reflect their view of themselves as scientific research and development centers. For example, there was a heavy reliance on data obtained by sophisticated remote-sensing techniques, reflecting the nature of the interests of the typical research scientist in these institutions. There was less emphasis on other socio-economic variables relevant to wasteland management. such as population and livestock data.”
  • Phase 2: transfer to distinct level. the director left.
  • Inscribed interests
    • Argument: “Each of these components(hardware, software, data) inscribes the interests of various human agents and can be thought therefore to be a delegate that 'speaks on their behalf.' The enrollment of other actors in networks surrounding the technology requires that these actors adopt attitudes and actions congruent with those of the interests inscribed in the technology.”
      • Computer systems – explicit data, and rational decision-making.
      • Map – spatially culture
      • Multilayer display – coordinated action