When institutional logics meet information and communication technologies : examining hybrid information practices in Ghana’s agriculture

04 Feb 2021

In this paper, we describe how changes in the availability of information artifacts—in particular, information and communication technologies (ICTs)—among smallholder farmers in Ghana, led to a process of hybridization of information practices, and how this process could be linked to underlying institutional change. We use the notions of institutional carriers and activity systems to study the evolution of the prevailing “smallholder” institutional logic of Ghanaian agriculture toward an incoming “value-chain” institutional logic concerned with linking farmers to output markets, improving the knowledge base in agriculture, and increasing its information intensity. We draw on a mixed-methods approach, including in-depth qualitative interviews, focus groups, observations, and detailed secondary quantitative data. We cultivate activity theory as a practice-based lens for structuring inquiry into institutional change. We find that information artifacts served to link the activities of farmers that were embedded in the smallholder logic with those of agricultural-development actors that promoted the value-chain logic. Hybridization occurred through the use of artifacts with different interaction modalities. In terms of conceptualizing change, our findings suggest that hybridization of the two logics may be an intermediary point in the long transition from the smallholder toward the value-chain logic.