Social Network Analysis and ICT4D Research: Principles, Relevance, and Practice

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The application of information and communication technologies to socio‐economic development (ICT4D) is a complex sociotechnical phenomenon. That complexity has led to repeated calls for diversification in the theories, methodologies, and methods used in this field. This paper investigates one potential diversification: the use of social network analysis (SNA) as an approach for ICT4D research. Very few studies in the field have used SNA to date that led us, in the first instance, to provide an overview of core SNA concepts, network research design considerations, and analytic approaches. Based on the distinct principles underpinning SNA, we then outline 3 arguments for the relevance thereof in ICT4D: (1) conceptual relevance to ICT4D practice, (2) methodological and epistemological relevance to the present and future state of ICT4D research, and (3) instrumental relevance to the future ICT4D research agenda. The paper concludes with an illustrative example, demonstrating network research design and a few SNA procedures utilised in exploring the relationship‐ and resource‐orientations of an ICT4D champion. By introducing and illustrating SNA, we hope to help other ICT4D researchers determine whether and how SNA might be of relevance to their work.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12036
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalElectronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • ICT4D research
  • network research
  • social network analysis
  • ICT4D champions

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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