Information strategies for Malaysia : geographical, organisational, political and technological implications for development
Malaysia has undergone radical social, economic and political development over the last four decades. The information systems put in place to provide informational support for managing development projects have also changed from manual systems in the 1960s and 1970s, to computerised systems based on batch and on-line processing and networking in the 1980s, and multimedia in the 1990s. Two large-scale information system programmes were studied in detail. The National Project Monitoring System (SETIA) and the National Land Information System (NALIS) involved co-ordination of individualised information systems and sharing of information by agencies at Federal, State (including District) and local authorities. Collection of information and the subsequent analysis of that information was guided by two theoretical frameworks: first the organisational perspectives framed by Web models which help in understanding the dynamics of computing in development; and second the subjective epistemological stance framed by structuration theory which helps to frame an understanding of the complexities of social relations surrounding information systems development. This research demonstrates how organisational behaviour, and a socio-political culture influenced by economic interests and personal ambition, can complicate large scale information systems development. Reluctance to share information; differences of appreciation and awareness and varying levels of understanding of the technology in use; inadequate and incompatible information; inadequate working strategies and standards; and imbalanced infrastructural support are among the major reasons for lack of success. However, in the implementation of information systems, problems related to human factors are not unique to Malaysia; rather they are common even among 'advanced' countries. But developing countries like Malaysia are often more sensitive to changes in economic and political environments. The concluding chapter of this thesis places the information strategy issues in the context of Malaysian and Southeast Asian political and economic events of 1998.