Value Sensitive Design for IT Governance: an Intercultural Perspective

Cross-country policy transferring could be aimed at transferring and implementing policies with moral import. Aid assisted ICT Governance projects are increasingly being used for cross-country policy transferring. For ICT Governance projects especially for the institutional strengthening projects; associated procedures, processes, tools, and systems including the information and communication technology systems are also needed to be transferred and sometimes transplanted for achieving the desired objectives. Information and Communication technologies and systems (ICTs) are becoming an important part for achieving the goals of aid-assisted projects. ICTs could be used for achieving the goals of policies with western moral ideals, for example – opening up the closed institutions in the host country (Ahmed, M.A. 2008a), creating an environments for freedom of information by instrumenting information capabilities (Ahmed, M.A. 2008b), achieving democratic ideals and many more — based on capability approach (Sen, A. 1999; Nussbaum, M. 2000).
ICT systems in aid assisted ICT Governance projects can be influenced by the preconceived ideas and values at two different levels. First one is at the broader level of inter-influence of technology and culture, and the second one is at the specific level of the objectives and aims of policy(ies) to be transferred and implemented. Researchers have argued that at the more general level, ICTs more readily support certain values of society(ies) in which they are built — based on soft technological determinism. Moreover ICTs, intended to be implemented, in aid assisted institutional strengthening are influenced by the preconceived ideas and values of the broader policy to be transferred to the institutions in the host country. Many times the ideas and values are new for the host institution and in conflict with the existing values, norms, and practices. Different researches and theories (Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner 1997; Hofstede, G. 1991; Hall, E. T. 1984 ; Hall, E. T. 1976; Inglehart, R. F. 2008) show that cultural diversity and cultural variations of values exist between different countries and regions. Studies in the field of psychology show that one of the consequences of intercultural contact, particularly when it is negative or discriminatory, is to react against it, and to increase one’s identification with one’s own cultural community (Berry, P. 2008). References to these empirical studies at descriptive level along with the discussion on ‘cultural pluralism (Ess,C. 2008)’ could support a claim at conceptual level – i.e., if cultural diversity exist between the donor country and the host country then stakeholders have to take into account and planned for the variations in values while conceiving and implementing systems for the public sector institutions of a developing country. One of the factors in accounting and planning for the variations, is to customize, modify and if needed to alter the Information and communication technology or system. For creating the right equilibrium of alteration, the system or application should not be altered to the extent that it reinforces existing institutional structures and desired objectives of the policies could not be achieved (Propositions of Information Technology Alteration – Design and Management – Framework). Values considered to be more legitimate, should not be altered in the system, so that the desired objectives are achieved and the system would be sustainable in future. An insight to Value Sensitive Design from an intercultural perspective could guide in reaching the right equilibrium for alteration. I propose that Value Sensitive Design could be extended to Value Sensitive Implementation according to which the systems should be altered according to the host values.
Most of the chapters of the thesis refer to Web based Computer Mediated Communication systems such as web portals and web 2.0 applications and systems for public sector institutions including the parliaments and public sector Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).