Consultants as Intermediaries and Mediators in the Construction of Information and Communication Technologies for Development

Niall Hayes, Chris Westrup

Abstract


This article considers the role of one actor that is in the ascendancy in the development sector, namely the multinational management consulting organization. Drawing on science and technology studies concepts, we argue that such consultants are increasing and important, yet relatively invisible intermediaries and mediators in the development sphere that justify critical examination. Empirically, we draw on secondary data relating to the shape and nature of consulting in the development sector and focus specifically on a report by a multinational consulting organization to illustrate our argument. Our discussion argues that consultants can be treated both as intermediaries, relays in a network of development provision, and as highly political mediators that seek to expand and stabilize their position in the development network and, in so doing, actively shape what we take development to be. Overall, we suggest that understanding the ways in which such actors engage in the development sphere are important to current and future discussions and developments in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D).

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