Unintended consequences of technology in development

Along with Bilal Butt from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Omolade Adunbi of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Joyojeet Pal is researching the way in which technology affects people and their livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries.

Start date: 11/28/2012
End date: 11/30/2014

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The use of technological innovations in development and governance projects is often assumed to be both positive and uniform in its efficacy across disparate social groups, environments, and its relationship with the state. However, there are growing understandings about the ways in which these technologies have differential effects on people and their livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries. 

Few studies have tackled how these technologies often lead to unintended consequences. Using case studies from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Kenya, this project will investigate three questions:

  • How prevalent is the use of technology in rural and urban livelihood strategies among the poor in low- and middle-income countries? 
  • What are political, economic and social contexts associate with the use of these technologies in these livelihood strategies? 
  • In what ways, and under which contexts, do the use of technologies reinforce, erode or maintain pre-existing social relations of production and exchange?


MCubed seed grantUnintended Consequences of Technology in Development: A Cross-Sectional Analysis, University of Michigan: $60,000 


MCubed is a two-year seed funding program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of University of Michigan faculty to pursue new initiatives with major societal impact.