Meet our new IFIP WG 9.4 Chair

Prof Robert Davison

Robert Davison is the new chair of the IFIP WG 9.4, a position expected to run initially from May 2017-May 2019.

I was born in the UK, went to Nottingham University (1986-1991) and came to Hong Kong in September 1991 to find a job (having failed to find one in the UK). I completed my PhD part time (1993-1998) and am now a Professor of Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong, where I have worked since 1992.

As a researcher, much of my work focuses on knowledge management in Chinese companies. My temperament is more inclined to qualitative data and interpretive case studies / action research, though my students are often more positivist and quantitative, and so conformist. Yes, I see myself as rather non-conformist.

I have been active in the international IS community for many years, as a founding member of the AIS in 1995, and in a variety of roles in the AIS and elsewhere. Since 2002, I have been the editor in chief of the Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC) which after many years of essentially self-publishing will be published by Wiley with effect from 2018. I am also the editor in chief of the Information Systems Journal (also published by Wiley). As an editor, I travel widely to promote both journals, as well as the group. Most recently I have been in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Philippines and Indonesia. At the end of September I will be in Angola for a few days. Some of these places are rather off the beaten track, yet there are researchers here, people to engage with, people to include into our groups and networks.

In accepting Maung’s nomination for the chair position of this working group, I felt inspired by his past leadership, but also eager to see what innovations I might be able to bring. The group is one of the largest such IFIP groups, and indeed one of the most successful. I suspect that it is also one of the most disparate, with members from developing and developed countries around the world. That creates challenges, for even as we all share a research interest in developing countries, our backgrounds, our stories, our interests, our approaches, our means vary widely, encompassing those who are well resourced to those who are not resourced at all. Although I see the group as being very inclusive, I would like to make it more inclusive.

I feel that PhD students and early career researchers deserve our particular attention, because they represent the future of the discipline, and our group. We need to ensure that they feel included in our events, and also that they are encouraged to play a role in those events. Although I do not expect that we will organise events exclusively for PhD students, I do think that we should try to bring as many PhD students (and other early career researchers) to our meetings and workshops as possible. One way to do this is not to rely on a single biennial conference, but to encourage regional events, which can then cater to the needs of people living relatively closer to that regional location (since the annual event may be far away). The regional events will be organised by the regional representatives, of whom we have quite a number. If you would like to volunteer, please let us know.

This is the first of a series of profiles. I hope that future newsletters will run more of them.


Conference report

The IFIP Working Group 9.4 14th International Conference on the Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on May 22–24, 2017.  The venue was the delightful Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel with its wonderful manicured gardens and pool. The conference was attended by 147 participants from 31 countries. The theme of the conference was “ICTs for Promoting Social Harmony: Towards a Sustainable Information Society.” Where a harmonious society a peaceful and balanced connected whole, as part of a transformed social dynamic. A harmonious society is where there is a sustainable exchange of resources and development taking place through mutual agreement.

A call for tracks was distributed in 2016, with 17 track proposals received, of which 13 were finally selected for inclusion in the conference. There were 118 submissions from which 68 papers were accepted for publication. For the first time, the papers were published in the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology series (IFIP AICT Vol. 504, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-59111-7). We thank Springer for their support in publishing the proceedings of this conference.

The conference benefited from three outstanding keynote speakers: Robert M. Davison, City University of Hong Kong, Chrisanthi Avgerou, London School of Economics and Kentaro Toyama, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The blue flashing-light police car escort ensured prompt arrival for coaches carrying participants at the gala dinner and spectacular performance of the Ramayana Ballet with the Prambanan 9th Century Hindu temple complex as a backdrop.

Special thanks go to the hosts of this conference, Universitas Islam Indonesia and Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta. Every conference has an organisational leader whose outstanding achievements contribute to the overall success of the event. For this conference Fathul Wahid, who led the local organisation team and also pulled together the final proceedings, is to be congratulated for his exceptional effort.

Thanks also to my fellow conference co-chairs: Jyoti Choudrie, University of Hertfordshire, UK, M. Sirajul Islam, Örebro University, Sweden, Fathul Wahid, Universitas Islam Indonesia, and Johanes Eka Priyatma, Sanata Dharma University, Indonesia.

The event has resulted in a special issue for the Information Technology for Development Journal (Taylor and Francis) which could include extended versions of papers published at the conference (deadline, January 2018). We are also pleased to announce that Prof Robert M. Davison, City University of Hong Kong has been elected chair of IFIP Working Group 9.4. We are delighted that, Arlene Bailey, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica will continue as Working Group Secretary.


Julian M. Bass,

University of Salford,

UKGroup photo session - IFIP WG 94 2017 Conference 01.JPG