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A framework using institutional analysis and the capability approach in ICT4D.

Bass, Julian M.; Nicholson, Brian; Subhramanian, Eswaran


Julian M. Bass

Brian Nicholson

Eswaran Subhramanian


nstitutional theory and the capability approach have grown inºuential in development research and practice. Both theories offer analytical tools for interpreting and guiding information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) interventions. In this article, we propose an analytical framework that applies institutional theory and the capability approach in the domain of ICT4D. Using empirical evidence from a case study, we argue that there are beneªts for both ICT4D-research and -practice of using the contrasting strengths of these analytical tools. A combined theoretical framework offers analytical and practical insights in terms of potential for stimulation (excitation) and degradation (inhibition) of development goals. The novel approach taken for combining institutional theory with the capability approach uses institutional theory to understand the social drivers that may inhibit or enable individuals from taking full advantage of ICT resources for furtherance of their lives. These social drivers could be overlooked when using any of the approaches in isolation. We also observe how enhanced capabilities can strengthen and develop institutions. In this article, we contribute a combined framework linking both theories and their attendant exciters and inhibitors. The frameworks utility is illustrated with a case study based on empirical work in the Ethiopian higher education sector. The combined framework and case study contribute to theory development and inform practice by offering a novel approach to analyzing ICT-led developmental interventions.


BASS, J.M., NICHOLSON, B. and SUBHRAMANIAN, E. 2013. A framework using institutional analysis and the capability approach in ICT4D. Information technologies and international development [online], 9(1), pages 19-35. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 31, 2013
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2013
Publication Date Mar 31, 2013
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2014
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2014
Journal Information technologies and international development
Print ISSN 1544-7529
Electronic ISSN 1544-7537
Publisher University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 19-35
Public URL
Publisher URL


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