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University of Joensuu (2007)

The implementation of geographic information systems in Namibia

Noongo, Emma Ndaendelao

Titre : The implementation of geographic information systems in Namibia

Auteur : Noongo, Emma Ndaendelao

Université de soutenance : University of Joensuu

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2007

This thesis presents an in-depth empirically informed investigation of the implementation process of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Namibia. The aim of the thesis is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the process of GIS implementation in developing countries. I argue that this aim could be realised from a social construction of technology perspective. In so doing, I adopted an interpretive stance, informed by innovation translation of actor-network theory (ANT) as a framework for understanding the complexities of interplays between social and technological entities. Empirical materials were gathered through exploratory survey questionnaires and descriptive case studies. In addition, participation at conferences with themes related to GIS implementation in developing countries and more particularly in Africa provided a wider understanding of perceptions of GIS users in Africa, regarding the implementation aspects of GIS technology on the continent. A literature survey and the author’s accumulated experience provided a valuable contribution to the research and guided the empirical research undertaking. The exploratory survey questionnaires was undertaken to investigate the perception of the Namibian GIS community regarding the implementation aspects and effectiveness of GIS technology in their respective organisations. The survey questionnaires were circulated to a total of 183 people, 73% of which have responded. The survey findings offered insight into the general characteristic of the human actors in the implementation process of GIS, the perceptions of the systems end users regarding the impacts of GIS, and the main challenges hampering the effective use of GIS technology. The need to study a complex topic within its organisational context led me to adopt a case study methodology. The purpose of the case studies was to pursue more fully issues raised in the survey questionnaire by discussion them at length with key persons, and to observe firsthand GIS implementaion. Using ANT framework, the case studies addressed the aim of the thesis by tracing the actors, associations, formation of alliances and delineating actornetworks involved in the implementation process of GIS, in three different organisational settings. ANT helped unpack the complexity inherent in the implementation process of GIS technology. The adoption and implementation of GIS involves the interplay of social and technological entities, as they negotiate, accept and reject translations, as well as they influence and impact one another. I argue that GIS implementation is an ongoing organisational process, in which the social and the technological entities cannot be easily divorced from each other, and requires them to be considered in relation to each other.

Mots Clés  : Geographic Information Systems (GIS), implementation, Namibia, organisation, innovation, Actor Network Theory (ANT)


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