Talk: Why Do Aid Information Management Systems Fail?

  • DATE / TIME:
    2017•05•31    14:00 - 15:00

    Kyung Ryul Park will visit UNU Institute in Macau and deliver a talk entitled “Why Do Aid Information Management Systems Fail?”. During his time in Macau, he will also discuss certain research interests with UNU Institute in Macau researchers.

    Kyung Ryul Park is a Ph.D. candidate in Management Department at London School of Economics and Political Science. Kyung’s research is primarily concerned with issues of digital inequality, knowledge, and power in international development. His empirical research explores the role of open data and information systems in aid coordination among stakeholders. He has extensive experiences on development policy and ICT for development projects with the World Bank, International Vaccine Institute, UN World Intellectual Property Organization, Korea International Cooperation Agency, and Innovation for Poverty Action. He worked in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, India, Indonesia, Cambodia and the United States. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, B.S. in Chemical Engineering, and B.A. in International Relations from Seoul National University.

    Aid information management systems (AIMS) are information systems that enable donors and recipient governments to open and share aid information for enhanced transparency and aid coordination among stakeholders. Despite the global popularity of AIMS, little research has been conducted to understand 1) why such systems became so widely adopted; and 2) why many cases have not achieved the anticipated outcomes that the rhetoric of AIMS promised, and even failed to reach sustainability. The presentation will be based on two empirical findings and analysis which are closely interrelated. First, it briefly presents results of a comprehensive analysis of 75 AIMS implemented in 70 recipient countries over the last two decades. Drawing on institutional theory, it gives a historical overview of AIMS and explains how the institutionalization of a global field of aid put into place a set of codes as norms and rules that constitute a scheme of rationalizing AIMS. Second, based on an interpretive study on Indonesian case, it investigates why information systems designed to institute global aid principles has been implemented, used, and then abandoned. Findings show that decoupling between stated values and operational actions are the contradictory outcome of power dynamics and demands imposed on the government by other stakeholders in the field of global aid. By tracing the justifications for abandoning AIMS, it illustrates how IS failure needs to be understood as an outcome of macro level dynamics; and how the state actor has actively shaped the global level of contingency and found an alternative legitimacy in the field of aid.