In this paper I review the Information Systems (IS) research on how developing countries have attempted to benefit from information and communication technologies (ICTs). First I identify three discourses on IS implementation and associated organizational and social change that coexist in information systems in developing countries (ISDC) research, namely as a process of technology and knowledge transfer and adaptation to local social conditions; as a process of socially embedded action; and as a process of transformative techno-organizational intervention associated with global politics and economics. I then point out the distinctive research agenda that has been formed in ISDC studies, both in the more familiar IS themes – failure, outsourcing, and strategic value of ICT – and also in studies of themes relevant specifically to the context of developing countries, such as the development of community ICT and information resources. Finally, I call the reader’s attention to the potentially significant theoretical contributions of ISDC research for understanding IS innovation in relation to social context and in relation to socio-economic development theories and policies.

Keywords: developing countries, information systems, innovation, development, discourses

Journal of Information Technology (2008) 23, 133–146. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jit.2000136 Published online 17 June 2008