News and activities
20 February 2019
Effects of ICTs on agriculture in developing countries: The case of Mexico
Presented By Dr Emilio Lastra-Gil - London School of Economics (LSE)
About this event
Emilio’s research is on the adoption and usage of digital technologies in the agricultural sector, with a focus on developing countries and especially on Mexico, on which he defended his PhD last year. Emilio’s talk will be a great occasion for us to reflect on themes at the interface between information systems and processes of economic & institutional development, with a specific focus on resource-constrained settings which feature prominently in the CIM agenda. Please come in numbers, and do feel free to invite those MSc and research students who may have an interest in the area!
The agricultural sector in developing countries employs a considerable fraction of the rural population and provides food security for a growing population, but it is an economic sector where there is significant poverty and marginalization. The World Bank’s 2012 report on Information and Communications for Development has argued that ICTs can help farmers to increase productivity, improve income and reduce poverty. It is recognized, however, that transformation of farming by ICTs has been at best limited, and Emilio's research is motivated by the need to understand why technologies have failed to help farmers in developing countries more fully.
Emilio's theoretical framework evolved from simple Transaction Cost Economics Theory and a dichotomy of market and hierarchy economic organisation into a more complex logic of social embeddedness. In his research he described similarities with Powell (1990)’s Network (the hybrid) mode of organisation, but while Powell concluded co-operation to be an effective long-term strategy, Emilio found that co-operation is often opportunistic and ephemeral. He argues that in the context of agriculture in a developing country, regulation is ineffective because of feeble state policies and fragile institutions, and social relationships rather than regulation determine which transactions occur and economic collaborative arrangements arise.