Organisational politics and information systems implementation : the case of the Indian public administration
Today, many developing countries are embarking on ambitious programmes to develop large computer-based information systems within their public administration to promote socio-economic development. However, the overall objectives of these investments remain unfulfilled. Success and failures of information systems are largely determined by the performance of organizational members associated with the development and use of information systems. Performance of these members is primarily determined by individual competencies and the environment in which the activities of these members are taking place. Information systems related education and training to create competent individuals has always been a matter of great concern to almost all developing countries. However, public administration in developing countries is an intensely political affair. Organizational politics very often give birth to a number of macro and micro environmental conditions, which constrain certain courses of action of competent individuals. Therefore, individuals, however competent, cannot perform to the best of their abilities. This invariably results in information systems that are ineffective and inefficient. Systematic empirical studies that can increase our understanding of this domain are virtually non-existent. The current research aims to rectify this issue. The research methodology adopted for the current research assumes that organizational members, when involved in a particular activity in a particular context, interpret the situation, and act accordingly. Researchers, by immersing themselves in the members' world can understand their actions. Focusing on two cases within the public administration of India and adopting a hermeneutic approach, the study interprets the actions of different organizational members associated with the implementation of information systems. By relating the performance of these members to the strengths and weaknesses of the information systems, the study makes broad recommendations. Findings of the study reveal that Indian policy makers and implementers have always given significant consideration to information systems related education and training. However, on the other hand, the very factors that India has been trying to address through successive administrative reforms since national independence happen to be the same factors that constrain the performance of competent individuals.