The Development Inclination of the South African Government 

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Chapter 2. Research Design


Chapter 1 introduced the thesis aims and its initial motivations in investigating how e- government can contribute to human development, citing the collectivist nature of society in South Africa. Chapter 2 describes the means of inquiry which was used to carry out the investigation, i.e. the research design and the approach used to analyse the rich data using Grounded Theory Analysis. Chapter 2 is organised into four sections: Section 2.2 justifies the selection of ethnography from the different competing research designs. Section 2.3 defines ethnography and the different scholarly and methodological approaches to ethnography. Section 2.4 describes the qualitative analysis approach, i.e. Grounded Theory, and how the methodological choices affect the remainder of the thesis. Section 2.5 summarises the chapter showing the influences of the ethnographic immersion on the research question.
Research design connects the researcher in the empirical world to the material to be investigated and addresses how the researcher will answer the two critical questions of representation and legitimacy (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005, p. 25). Research design is the “glue that holds the research project together” (Trochim, 2006, p. 1) or is the manner in which to structure the research in such a way that all the parts work together to address the central research question, from providing the guidelines that connect the research to the strategies of enquiry, and then to the methods of collecting data. There are two approaches to research design; the qualitative approach and the quantitative approach.
In quantitative research designs there are two primary elements that are measured; the characteristics of the subjects and the variables (independent and dependent) defining the research question (Hopkins, 2000, Creswell, 2009). Hence quantitative research designs are either descriptive or experimental. In descriptive studies, the phenomenon under investigation is usually measured once, while in experimental studies the phenomenon is measured before and after the experiment (Hopkins, 2000).
Qualitative research designs are often not as explicitly clear as in quantitative designs. Rather, qualitative research designs focus on the primary research question, the purposes of the study, the information that can appropriately answer specific research questions, and which strategies are most effective in obtaining this (LeCompte and Preissle, 1993, p. 30, Denzin and Lincoln, 2005, p. 25). Five basic questions must be answered in the qualitative research design:
• How will the design connect to the paradigm or perspective being used? That is, how will empirical materials be informed by and interact with the paradigm in question?
• How will these materials allow the researcher to speak to the problems of praxis and change?
• Who or what will be studied?
• What strategies of enquiry will be used?
• What methods of research tools for collecting and analysing empirical data will be utilised? (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005p. 376).
Qualitative research designs are commonly classified as one of five means of inquiry; ethnography, grounded theory, case studies, phenomenology and narrative research (Creswell, 2009, p. 12). In ethnography, the researcher studies a phenomenon within its cultural settings over a prolonged period of time. In grounded theory, the researcher develops a general theory based on a constant comparison between categories that emerge from collected data. Case studies explore in depth a phenomenon within a specific time frame. Phenomenological research makes inferences based on the lived experiences of the individuals or groups under investigation usually over a prolonged period of time. In narrative research, the researcher describes phenomenon based on views of participants in collaboration with the researchers own views (Creswell, 2009, p. 12).
The thesis identified with ethnography as the ‘glue’ that could connect the pieces of the investigation into how e-government could lead to development. This is not to say that some of the characteristics from the other classifications such as grounded theory, case study and narratives were not borrowed to enhance the approach adopted, but ethnography was the predominant means of inquiry.


Ethnography is a qualitative research design where the researcher is involved by “participating, overtly or covertly, in people’s daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions – in fact, collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the focus of the research” (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995, p. 1). Ethnographers unearth the basis of human social actions before they assign meaning to behaviours and beliefs (Schensul et al., 1999, p. 1) and rather than hide from situations that arise in the contextual situations, ethnographers create “window(s) of opportunity” (Zuboff, 1988).
Ethnography as a research tradition has its roots in anthropology and sociology. It was first proposed by Bronislaw Malinowski in his study of native enterprise in Melanesian New Guinea published in 1922 (Atkinson et al., 2001a). For Malinowski, insight can only be understood from within a context.
Since 1922 a divergent number of ethnographic schools each with its own epistemology of ethnography have arisen (Atkinson et al., 2001a, Sanday, 1979, Charmaz and Mitchell, 2001). The diversity has led to little agreement on an absolute definition of ethnography. Sanday (1979) distils three distinct schools; the holistic, semiotic and behaviouristic schools. The holistic school believes that the researcher must be able to empathise with the people living in the research context. In the holistic school, living just like the local people is necessary. The semiotic school, with the greatest adherent Geertz (1988, , 1983, , 1973), does not believe that empathy is a necessary condition for the researcher; they believe that it is enough for the researcher to be able to make sense of the lifestyle of the people within the context to search out and analyse meanings. The behaviouristic school focuses on creating deductive propositions based on pre-selected functional and relevant categories.
Despite the differences, there remains an underlying point of agreement between all the schools; ethnographic research involves having first-hand experience and exploration of a particular social setting, predominantly on the basis of observation and participation (Atkinson et al., 2001a, p. 4, Sanday, 1979, p. 527). The ethnographer should be able to become conversant with the norms of the people living within the studied context to the point that the behaviours of the people now make sense (Harvey and Myers, 2002).
The thesis identified with the semiotic school of ethnography. The researcher, as an active member of the PAJA Project (Chapter 1) has had close personal relationships with the people involved in the context for more than three years, to the point of unearthing meaning about the lifestyle of the people within their social contexts.

Ethnographic Epistemology

In practice, ethnographers do not necessarily agree with the positivist notion that valid knowledge resides only in the intellect. Ethnographers argue that it is immensely difficult to “plan, choose and have purposes as they (ethnographers) pick their way among the great mass of events around them, and they must do so in ways that will themselves change as they learn more about them” (Rock, 2001, p. 30). Hence ethnographic research is neither passive nor is it neutral, but rather “interactive and creative, selective and interpretive, illuminating patches of the world around it, giving meaning and suggesting further paths of enquiry” (Rock, 2001, p. 30). Taken as such, ethnographic research does not start from “fixed conditions and a clear vision of what lies ahead but changes with each stage of enquiry so that many important questions only emerge in situ” (Rock, 2001, p. 30).
Likewise, Fetterman (1989) remarked that “ethnographic work is not always orderly. It involves serendipity, creativity, being in the right place at the right or wrong time, a lot of hard work, and old-fashioned luck” (1989p. 12). In fact, ethnographers discourage the notion of being hedged in with firm hypotheses, research designs and instruments – these only serve to blind the researcher to the world (Atkinson et al., 2001a). It is only during the process of research, as the researcher develops and transforms the research problem that its scope is clarified and delimited and its internal structure explored. It is during this process of inquiry that the real research problem is actually discovered, and in most cases is different from the overshadowed problem; “in ethnographic research the development of research problems is rarely completed before fieldwork begins; indeed, the collection of primary data often plays a key role in that process of development” (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995p. 37).
In this thesis, the original area of interest was exploratory in nature in understanding how e- government could lead to human development. As the PAJA Project progressed and data were collected, it became evident that government chiefly provides for development through its policies. It is the implementation of the policies within a social context that is problematic and in many cases the policies themselves are neither understood by the citizens nor the government administrators who are responsible for implementing them (Republic of South Africa, 2007b). This is how the research problem evolved to become much clearer in creating a framework that could explain how ICT could facilitate policy implementation within a development context.

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Theory in Ethnography

Agar (2006) notes that studying humans ethnographically requires an intensive personal involvement and “an improvisational style to meet situations not of the researcher’s making, and an ability to learn from a long series of mistakes” (p. 12). Agar (2006) recommends using attributes of existing theory to guide ethnographic research as strips that can serve as observable points for the researcher to test his understanding of the research phenomenon. During the ethnographic immersion into the research phenomenon, the researcher will invariably meet disjunctions between the traditions within the research phenomenon and the theory guided expectations; the disjunction signals a breakdown. That is, when a strip of the theory is not understood in relation to tradition, a breakdown has occurred. Once a breakdown is identified, something must be done about it and the process of moving from breakdown to understanding is called resolution. In resolution, the theory is modified or a new theory is constructed before trying again. This process of resolution continues until all breakdowns are resolved, resulting in what is called coherence. A coherent resolution can be known to have been reached when the resolution can “1) show why it is a better resolution than others that can be imagined 2) tie a particular resolution in with the broader knowledge that constitutes a tradition and 3) clarify and enlighten, to elicit an “aha” reaction from the members of the different traditions that make up the ethnographic encounter” (Agar, 1986, p. 22). The process is diagrammatically depicted in Figure 2.1 below.

List of Figures 
List of Tables 
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations 
1.1. Introduction 
1.2. The Development Inclination of the South African Government 
1.2.1 Batho Pele
1.2.2 Ubuntu
1.3. Research Background
1.3.1 Role of the Researcher
1.4. Problem Statement & Research Questions 
1.5. Contributions to Knowledge 
1.5.1 Theoretical Contribution
1.5.2 Practical Contributions
1.6. Structure of the Thesis 
2.1. Introduction 
2.2. Ethnography 
2.2.1 Ethnographic Epistemology
2.2.2 Theory in Ethnography
2.2.3 Ethnography in the Information Systems Field
2.2.4 Limitations of Ethnography and Thesis Proposed Solutions
2.2.5 Defending the Means of Inquiry
2.3. Data Analysis
2.3.1 Grounded Theory
2.3.2 Methodologies of Grounded Theory – Emergence vs. Forcing
2.3.3 Grounded Theory Methodology by Strauss and Corbin
2.4. Summary of Research Design
3.1. Introduction 
3.2. South Africa 
3.2.1 Socio-economic Context of South Africa
3.2.2 A Brief Historical Context of South Africa
3.2.3 Analytic Memo: History of South Africa
3.3. Research Setting 
3.3.1 Lebotloane
3.3.2 Siyabuswa
3.3.3 University of Pretoria
3.3.4 Analytic Memo: Comparing the Research Sites
3.4. Summary and Implications for the Thesis 
4.1. Introduction 
4.2. Background of the PAJA Project 
4.3. The Approach of the PAJA Project – thinkLets 
4.3.1 Workshop Preparation
4.4. The PAJA Project Process – Workshops 
4.4.1 Workshop Activity 1: Social Interactions
4.4.2 Workshop Activity 2: PAJA Project Overview & Recap
4.4.3 Workshop Activity 3: Explanation of the PAJA Act
4.4.4 Workshop Activity 4: Practical Session on PAJA Act
4.4.5 Workshop Activity 5: Formal Research Feedback
4.5. The PAJA Project Outputs 
4.5.1 First and Second Milestones
4.5.2 Third Milestone
4.5.3 Fourth Milestone
4.5.4 Fifth Milestone
4.5.5 Sixth Milestone
4.5.6 Seventh Milestone
4.5.7 Eighth Milestone
4.5.8 Ninth Milestone
4.6. Summary and Implications for the Thesis 
5.1. Introduction 
5.2. Development
5.2.1 The Causes of Deprivation
5.2.2 Implementing Development
5.2.3 Key issues in Development
5.2.4 Analytic Memo: Thesis Thoughts on Development
5.3. Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach 
5.3.1 ICT and the Capabilities Approach 84
5.3.2 The Capabilities Approach and Ubuntu 86
5.4. ICT for Development – ICT4D 
5.4.1 Socio-economic improvements through locally situated action 89
5.4.2 Socio-economic improvements through transfer and diffusion of ICT
5.4.3 ICT does not necessarily result in development for all, it is subject to the power dynamics of IS innovation action
5.4.4 ICT does not necessarily result in development for all, the transfer and diffusion of ICT leads
to uneven development
5.4.5 Gaps in ICT4D
5.5. Concluding thoughts on Development and ICT4D
5.6. ICT in government: E-government 
5.6.1 Measuring E-government
5.6.2 E-government Maturity Models
5.6.3 E-government in South Africa
5.6.4 Gaps in E-government
5.6.5 Collaboration
5.6.6 100
5.6.7 E-Collaboration
5.6.8 Collaboration Engineering using thinkLets
5.7. Concluding Thoughts from the Literature Review 
6.1. Introduction 
6.1.1 The Ubuntu Development Framework
6.2. Deriving the Substantive Theory 
6.3. The Substantive Theory 
6.3.1 The Problems and/or Opportunities for Development
6.3.2 Determinant Forces of Development
6.3.3 Evidence of Development
6.3.4 Visual Presentation of the Substantive Theory
7.1. Introduction 
7.2. Grounded Theory Comparison of Theories 
7.3. Comparing the Substantive Theory with Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action 
7.3.2 Habermas’ Structure of Social Interactions
7.3.3 The Theory of Communicative Action
7.4. Comparing the Substantive Theory with Actor Network Theory
7.4.1 The Basis of Actor Network Theory
7.4.2 The Structure of ANT
7.5. Discussion after Engagement with the ANT and TCA 
8.1. Introduction 
8.2. Theoretical Contributions 
8.2.1 Who cares? and What’s new?
8.2.2 Why now?
8.2.3 Why so? and Well done?
8.2.4 Done well?
8.2.5 So what?
8.3. Practical Contributions 
8.4. Limitations and Areas for Further Research 
8.5. Concluding Remarks
8.5.1 Critical Reflection
Appendix A: List of Publications and Abstract Associated with Thesis
Appendix B: PAJA Research Instruments
Appendix C: An Example Illustrating how Categories and Analytic Memos are derived from Data



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