Accepted paper:

Institutional isomorphism and organized hypocrisy in aid information management systems (AIMS): the case of Indonesia


Kyung Ryul Park (LSE )

Paper short abstract:

The study highlights the complexity of aid information management systems (AIMS), and explains its implementation and shutdown. By doing an in-depth qualitative study in Indonesia, it shows that AIMS is not mainly driven by a search for managerialistic gain, but motivated by external pressures.

Paper long abstract:

AIMS are ICT applications that enable donors and recipient government to share geospatial aid data. Many AIMS have been widely implemented in developing countries with hopes to improve transparency and aid coordination. In spite of heavy investments made and current trends favouring open data, the anticipated outcomes have not been achieved in many cases (Park, 2016). Little critical research, however, has been conducted in the field of digital governance in aid sector. Even within the existing research, most is from a technically rational, a-political perspective that focuses on AIMS as powerful managerial tools. Conceptualizing AIMS as a set of socio-technical domains in which different political and institutional interests of various stakeholders inevitably collide, this study places emphasis on the complexity stakeholders face surrounding AIMS. Drawing upon institutional perspectives, the idea of isomorphism (Di Maggio and Powell 1983) and organized hypocrisy (Brunsson 1989), the study positions the implementation of AIMS in the context of external pressures that the government confronted. Case study in Indonesia shows that gaps between government's policy and action are the contradictory outcome of power dynamics and demands imposed on the government by stakeholders: donor countries, international development agencies, and epistemic community in aid sector. By focusing on the diverging interests of powerful stakeholders and conflicting themes interpreted, the study suggests that AIMS is not mainly driven by a search for managerialistic advantage, but motivated by external institutional pressure; and provides an understanding the implementation and shutdown of AIMS and unpacking the puzzle why technology does not work.

panel P01
Power, politics and digital development [Information, Technology and Development Study Group]