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Digital Development Leadership 
Jaco Renken (University of Manchester)
Richard Heeks (University of Manchester)
Epiphania Kimaro (University of Manchester)
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Data digitalisation
Papers Mixed
Thursday 18 June, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

The new digital development paradigm has profound implications on how data- and technology-intensive development is led and by whom. We seek contributions that explicate characteristics, requirements and implications - positive and negative - resulting from the leadership of digital development.

Long Abstract

We know leadership is required to bring about the necessary action to address wicked development problems such as persistent poverty and inequality, ineffectiveness of the state, man-made and natural disasters. These actions are shaped by existing political, economic, social and cultural structures and processes. In the emerging digital development paradigm, data and technologies are added to the factors shaping those actions, but what are the leadership implications thereof?

We seek papers that help us to conceptualise, to analyse, to evidence, to critique and, overall, to build a picture of how leadership engages the agents, processes and structures of development through digital initiatives. We welcome all aspects of digital development leadership but include these examples of the implications of the emerging digital development paradigm:

• The nature and characteristics of digital development leadership. What kinds of leadership are being exercised by those leading digital initiatives and how does it compare to those without a digital component? What are the challenges and opportunities resulting from various epistemologies of leadership and how does that influence development praxis?

• The leadership challenges of digital development. What are the key challenges and how can they be overcome?

• The impacts of leadership on digital development initiatives. How do the leadership approaches of those leading digital initiatives influence the outcomes? How is leadership advancing or hindering the adoption of sustainable and resilient technologies and practices?

• Leadership capacity building for digital development initiatives. How and how effectively are development stakeholders capacitated to lead digital development initiatives?

Accepted papers:


Mawazo Magesa (Sokoine University of Agriculture)
Joan Jonathan (Sokoine University of Agriculture)

Paper short abstract:

Initiatives and development of digital technologies depend on good leadership. We intend to explicate characteristics of leaders essential to lead to digital development in organizations; and study how organizations value leadership and prepare leaders to champion initiatives to digital development.

Paper long abstract:

In the current era, digital technology has been among the competitive criteria for most organizations. Organizations have digitally transformed their services with the intention of imrpoving service delivery and improve efficiency and even boost revenue. Such transformation requires a digital leader who can champion such digital transformation. A digital leader is expected to initiate the digital transformation process, manage the process and even mobilize funds for such process. Thus, a digital leader must have some characteristics and behaviors that can enable him to achieve the goal of digital transformation. This research specifically studied the characteristics of digital leadership and based on Exploratory Factor Analysis identified related characteristics (i.e. factors) that were grouped into roles. The EFA of 23 items produced 7 factors while all 23 items loaded successfully. 4 factors and 13 items were included into the Confirmatory Factor Analysis which provided better fit for the sample data. The validity check showed the the digital leadership construct somehow converges and the 4 factors were different from one another. The study findings can be used by organization management while searching or promoting digital leaders, also they can be used in setting criteria and guidelines for getting leaders. Further research is recommended by incorporating more attributes and large sample size and if possible to consider cultural aspect.


Soumyo Das (International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore)
Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIIT, Bangalore)

Paper short abstract:

Our study explores the role of leadership in the adoption of ICTs in banking. Drawing on fieldwork in a Public Sector Bank in Calcutta, we show the forces driving leadership to proactively push for the adoption of ICTs & the role of Front-Desk Execs. as 'leadership vessels' in facilitating the same.

Paper long abstract:

Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in India are state-institutions dedicated to bringing financial products and services to people from low-income backgrounds and residing in remote & under-developed locations of the country (Ray 2004). In recent years, PSBs have increasingly started using ICTs to deliver financial services, and are proactively pushing for the adoption of digital banking technologies in service delivery. Drawing from a 3-month long ethnographic study of organizational work practices in a retail bank, our research traces the role of leadership in the adoption of a retail bank's in-house digital banking infrastructure.

Our findings highlight two important themes: firstly, the linkages between national policies, market-demands, and organizational aspirations of being a 'progressive modern firm' as core driving forces behind the senior and mid-level leadership stressing on increasing number of 'active users' of the digital banking infrastructure; secondly, the role of front-end executives as 'leadership-vessels' by acting in new advisory roles - from explaining the digital technology to customers, to helping them board the platform, and advising them on mitigating problems as and when they arise.

Our study strives to develop a grounded theory of how leadership facilitates the adoption of digital banking architectures and extends support to mitigating problems in digital system design and use, arising out of structural issues & use-knowledge shortcomings of customers.


Pradeep Kumar Misra (Chaudhary Charan Singh University)

Paper short abstract:

Digital initiatives have been seen as a viable option to achieve three cherished goals in higher education in India i.e. access, equity and quality. To make this happen, India needs capable digital leaders. This paper presents a plan for capacity building of digital leaders in higher education.

Paper long abstract:

India is one of the most largest and vibrant system of higher education in the world with 993 Universities, 51649 colleges, 37.4 million students, and 1.41 million teachers. Higher education is supposed to raise educational attainment levels, and provide skills to aspiring youths to contribute immensely for economic growth and development of Indian society. The role of higher education becomes much more important considering that among the total population of India (1.33 billion), 600 million are under the age of 25. But providing quality higher education at affordable rates for every aspirant is a herculean task. Fortunately, digital initiatives have been seen as a viable option to achieve three long cherished goals in higher education in India i.e. access, equity and quality. To make this happen, India needs digital leaders in higher education, and these leaders can be any one i.e. teachers, students, educational administrators, etc. Extending these arguments, this paper presents a plan for capacity building of digital leaders in higher education sector. To place current scenario into context, paper first provides an overview of current digital initiatives in higher education sector in India and introduces some key facts about the country, and afterwards deals with three important issues i.e. i) need for developing digital leaders in higher education sector in India, ii) challenges of developing digital leaders for higher education sector in India, and iii) strategies for leadership capacity building for promoting sustainable digital initiatives in higher education sector in India.


Atsuko Okuda (United Nations University)

Paper short abstract:

This exploratory inductive research examines anti-corruption effects of 2 e-governance initiatives in Bhutan where corruption is perceived low. This study aims to identify determinants of compliance, with focus on leaderships, among government employee users to explain the phenomena in Bhutan.

Paper long abstract:

E-governance initiatives are increasingly seen as a vehicle to tackle corruption. However, empirical evidence to help understand the mechanism is scarce, especially among developing countries. This inductive research explores the relationships between e-governance and corruption through compliance as a possible conduit to explain the phenomena. It answers the question of what are the determinants of compliance among government employee users in e-governance implementation.

Bhutan is selected as a case study country, as it is perceived as a low corruption country, despite being a least developed country. The research selected 2 e-governance initiatives central to the government's anti-corruption efforts: the Asset Declaration System of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the electronic Public Expenditure Management System of the Ministry of Finance.

Data collection was conducted through document analysis, observations, semi-structured interviews of over 30 government officials and experts in 2019. The fieldwork resulted in 1) information system descriptions based on document analysis and observations; 2) evidence of compliance among government employee users obtained through semi-structured interviews; and 3) external expert views for data triangulation. The data is analyzed using coding, pattern matching and cross-case synthesis.

The paper presents preliminary findings which identify possible determinants of compliance, with focus on multi-layered leaderships. Due to the technical complexity of e-governance systems, existing leaderships seem to play more supportive roles, while IT officials increasingly provide policy and decision making roles in the case of Bhutan. The combination of leaderships and other determinants may explain the high level of compliance and low level of corruption in Bhutan.