Influence processes of implementation effectiveness in challenged information technology projects in Africa.
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Purpose – This research reports on how influence processes (IP) impact on the implementation effectiveness of information technology (IT) projects. Drawing on an innovation perspective that elevate the interplay of factors related to innovations framing, innovations environment and innovation attributes, the study focused on IT projects based in Africa that are generally classified as “challenged” due to the conditions in the environment. The purpose of this paper is to assess how IP related to innovation framing, innovation environment and innovation attributes can be used to determine implementation effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach – Using a interpretive approach, a case study of institutions under a partnership that has been implementing various educational technologies in five African countries formed the sample. In all, 25 interviews of top-management representatives, project leaders and user representatives were conducted between 2012 and 2013 to assess the implementation effectiveness of these projects. Theoretical thematic analysis, based on a deductive approach, was employed to analyse the data. Findings – The results show that a majority of these development-oriented projects are “mandated failures” characterized by high framing, a bad internal environment and typically negative innovation attributes. That typically, the institutions engage symbolically in such innovations initiatives which are regarded as “show” projects. Such behaviour can be construed to be a pattern of cynical technology adoption linked to the appeasement of external stakeholders. In addition, participation in initiatives was largely symbolic and is considered as a mere demonstration of a modern organization that is technologically aware, yet the requisite innovation environment is lacking for effective appropriation of the technology. Third, mandated failures result in low morale of employees, who regard themselves as pawns in the process which make them grudgingly participate in the implementation process. Practical implications – These findings have implications for managing innovations in such challenged environments: the first proposition is that projects in challenged environment for innovation adopting organizations need to be considered as technology transfer projects. Second, the innovation environment and attributes can only be improved during implementation of the conditions related to absorptive capacity of the organization and the individual are addressed. Originality/value – The research reported in this paper, provides an empirical determination of the concept of implementation effectiveness by using three constructs of innovations framing, environment and attributes. On the basis of the empirical findings, an original contribution is claimed, especially in “challenged” IT project environments where the concept of success if fluid and outcomes uncertain.