Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Information Technology for Development
For a Special Issue on
Technology Platforms as a Model for Business Development
31 May 2023
Special Issue Editor(s)
Dr. Frank Nyame-Asiamah,
Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Bangaly Kaba,
Dr Caroline Khene,
De Montfort University
Technology Platforms as a Model for Business Development
The ICT4D discourse encourages individuals, entrepreneurs and organizations to use ICTs to support enterprise development or utilize technology platforms as innovative business models to improve socio-economic activities and quality of life in situations where technological resources are somewhat limited or urgently needed (Cunha, Soja & Themistocleous, 2021; Qureshi, 2015; Ren, Yang, Zhu & Majeed, 2021). This discourse has highlighted the positive effects of technology platforms, networks of interdependent entities that utilize internet resources as a development tool to provide complementary products and services for themselves and their consumers (Correa Tavares et al., 2021; Cheng, Mou & Yan, 2021).
The orchestrators of platform technologies have revolutionized existing business models and overtaken traditional markets on a number of critical dimensions including greater revenues, more rapid growth and better profit margins (Barbour & Luiz, 2019; Libert, Wind & Beck, 2021). For instance, Coopersmith (2017) reports that in less than a decade, Airbnb and Uber have demonstrated the creative demolition of traditional markets on a worldwide scale, upsetting the established taxi (transportation) and hotel (hospitality) industries and their regulators, while diffusing the sharing economy that reduces travel costs for millions of people. These companies have evolved impressively, not just by scaling up in size and impact, but also by rapidly experimenting with new technologies to create value for their investors and customers, and contribute to socio-economic development (Coopersmith, 2017; Cunha et al., 2021).
Platform technologies are also replacing the traditional physical and monetary assets with technology-enabled customer relationships and intellectual property, as most of them do not hold on to physical goods or provide face-to-face services. These technologies are cost-effective models of exchange, which provide a scalable space for vulnerable people, the unprivileged and underserved entities to do business on technology platforms. The platform-based companies generate a huge amount of data through the online transactions by their users, and leverage such information to recommend different products/services for customers. This also enables them to create unlimited opportunities for their suppliers, especially in non-data-driven settings where formal institutions are weak (Barbour & Luiz, 2019).
However, there is limited evidence to explain how platform technology has been utilized to mitigate institutional void, distrust behaviours, and corruption, especially in developing economies. Emerging studies are calling for further research in this direction (Barbour & Luiz, 2019; Heeks et al., 2021; Khanal et al., 2021; Malik et al., 2021). By institutional void, we mean the absence of trust, rule of law, contract enforcement mechanisms and specialized intermediaries that support transactions between buyers and sellers (Adomako et al., 2019; Khanna & Palepu, 2010). On one hand, the platforms and their owners use their technological resources to fill institutional voids, but they also limit vital information access to other users on their platforms, introduce market irregularities and evade business regulatory frameworks (Barbour & Luiz, 2019; Papadaki & Karamitsos, 2021; Rekhviashvili & Sgibnev, 2018). For instance, Heeks et al (2021) analyzed the e-hailing platform activities of Uber, Bolt and EasyTaxi in Colombia and South Africa, and found that these platform owners create free market economies that fill institutional voids. However, they create technology-enabled markets that are more unequal than the traditional markets they intend to replace through technology platforms in the first place. On the other hand, the platform owners use their technological powers to design platform architecture and set up rules of the game to suit their strategic intentions (Tan, Mahula & Crompvoets, 2021). They create opportunistic behaviors through consolidated power of technology, which undermines the rights of ordinary users of such platforms and ICTs (van Dijck, 2020; Peticca-Harris et al., 2018; Rekhviashvili & Sgibnev, 2018). So, the promise of using technology platforms to address dishonest behaviors in traditional market arrangements can degenerate and create a new trust issue for platform-based businesses (Cunha et al., 2021).
A recent Information Technology for Development’s special issue on ‘sharing economy enabled digital platforms for development’ identified privacy and trust issues as major concerns that discourage consumers and users from participating on technology platforms (Cheng, Mou & Yan, 2021). The editors called for future research on trust development of the sharing economy platforms in their closing editorial remarks. A more critical position on the ‘dark side’ of technology platform for development has featured in the Information Systems Journal’s special issue to highlight the imposition of big tech platform practices that colonize indigenous entrepreneurial networks, encroachment upon citizens privacy, and exclusion of disadvantaged users from accessing technology platforms in low-income economies (Bonina, Koskinen, Eaton & Gawer, 2021; Masiero & Arvidsson, 2021). The authors seek to challenge these issues which border trust and use of technology for development and encourage greater openness to utilizing technology platforms to create value for socio-economic development. Yet, a fresh insight from quantitative studies in the European Journal of Information Systems, indicates that the utility of mobile payment platforms grows the trust of patients and providers in perceived healthcare quality improvement in Nigeria (Nwankpa & Datta, 2021).
The debate around trust behaviors and technology platform business models is far from concluding as researchers continue to advocate for studies that seek relationships between the trust behaviors and technology platform architectures, in order to determine the public’s acceptance of trusted platforms (Tan et al., 2021). Instead of focusing on platform owners’ behaviours, Heeks et al (2021) make recommendations through qualitative studies that researchers should explore other market actors on technology platforms to understand how their institutional behaviors relate to the logics created by platform companies’ institutional work, especially in low-income economies. These suggestions echo extant studies on ICT4D that emphasize deeper and broader participation in designing and adopting technology platforms to suit the changing functional requirements of the multiple users of such technology (Liu, Ju & Feng, 2017; Msiska & Nielsen, 2018; Nielsen & Sæbø, 2016).
In this special issue, we are adopting a balanced view by inviting researchers and practitioners to submit novel contributions that explain how technology platforms can be designed, implemented and used from the wider participant group perspectives, to create business opportunities for underserved people and improve socio-economic status of those who use such platforms for business transactions. We also welcome submissions that seek to explain how platform-based business models can address different forms of institutional voids, narrow the channels of corruption and reduce socio-economic inequality that platform technologies may contribute. We are particularly interested in empirical and conceptual submissions that draw on thought-provoking theories and extend the existing understanding of platformization in the low-income countries, emerging economies, and marginalized communities in advanced economies.
Particular interests are topics that can be manifested through ICT4D research, but are not limited to:
- The opportunities offered by the technology platforms to facilitate private business development and/or public sector innovation in low-income countries, emerging economies, and marginalized communities in advanced economies
- The utilization of technology platforms to minimize transaction costs and promote economic wellbeing of people who use such platforms to do business in low-income countries, emerging economies, and marginalized communities in advanced economies
- The use of platform-based business models to create jobs and improve welfare of citizens in low-income countries, emerging economies and/or marginalized communities in advanced economies
- How the opportunistic behaviors of platform-based business actors affect the rights and wellbeing of less privileged users of such technologies in low(high)-income countries and/or emerging economies
- The design and use of platform-based business models to address institutional voids, dishonest behaviors and corruption in low-income countries, emerging economies and/or marginalized communities in advanced economies
- The enactment and policing of regulations to manage the threats of platform-based business models in low(high)-income countries or emerging economies
- The enactment and policing of regulations to maintain public confidence in enterprises that use technology platform for development in low(high)-income countries or emerging economies
- The ways platform-based enterprises use other platform users’ activity history on their respective platforms to create shared value and equity for all platform actors and/or to deny the actors’ rights to benefit from the platforms’ aggregated information in low(high)-income countries or emerging economies
Access the full list of references here.
When submitting your paper to this call, please select the title of the special issue, “Technology Platforms as a Model for Business Development” and indicate your preferred editor to be Frank Nyame-Asiamah. Submitted papers should follow the instructions for authors and indicate “Technology Platforms as a Model for Business Development” special issue when uploading their papers. Submissions to the special issue should be full research papers or practice-based papers. Each submitted paper will be peer-reviewed in the same manner as other submissions to the Journal of IT for Development. Relevance, quality and originality of the contribution are the major acceptance criteria for each submission.
After initial screening, papers are reviewed by selected members of the editorial board and peers from an international pool for quality, consistency and research contribution. Authors are welcome to nominate one of the special issue editors or preferred reviewers when submitting their paper where no conflict of interest exist (an existing business or professional partnership, past or present association as thesis advisor or thesis student, and/or collaboration on a project or on a book/article/report/paper or co-editing of a journal, compendium, or conference proceedings constitutes a conflict of interest). Papers submitted to this journal must contain original results and must not be submitted elsewhere while being evaluated. If a duplication is found, papers are subject to being rejected for that reason alone.