SOME METHODOLOGIES TO CONSIDER WHEN ADOPTIING TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
 Introduction

Organizations and communities are faced with numerous challenges that impede their progress and development.  Once an organization or community works together to identify these challenges, brainstorm on potential solutions they should then decide what methodology to adopt.  This process will lead them to collectively select the solution or technology they need to adopt in order to solve the challenge at hand. The organization or community goes further to analyse the requirements needed to successfully implement the selected technology solution. This discussion will first focus on some of the tried and tested methodologies for our part of the world and the models that are commonly emerging following the dictates brought by modern technologies.

Research methodology involving consultations with stakeholders
 2.1Overview

Research work that is often community-based and consequently dealing with people and society is therefore sensitive to community and society ecosystems.  ICTs as enablers for improvement and development are cross-cutting and therefore affect all sectors of the society. Technology integration in an organisation or community should engage all players if it is to fully address the intended objectives.  The nature of research work in organisations or communities has many variables to consider and this makes it difficult to use a single research methodology and therefore calls for other methodologies and models to be examined and assessed for their suitability.  The discussion on methodology and models is informed by other studies such as those by Lessem and Schieffer on Integral Research and Innovation (2010) where various trajectories are presented covering the Four Worlds namely the South, East, North and West.  Aspects of the Southern Relational Path from the South reflects  Lessem & Schieffer`s approach to Integral Research will be discussed in this article.  Future articles will then bring in components from the Eastern Path of Renewal and Northern Path of Reason.  These closely interrelated methodology trajectories are then discussed in the context of Mixed Methods model that provides for triangulation approach and finally the Socio-technical design which emerge as the preferred hybrid model out of these methodologies to address most challenges faced by organisations and communities.

 
Understanding the integral research trajectories

When conducting research work in a society and community environment, there is good reason and logic to examine the research methodologies that focus on models that incorporate pragmatism, rationalism, holism and humanism as developed by Lessem and Schieffer (2010). These methodologies are anchored in cultures of different world regions (transcultural) and each has a different implication for political, social and economic research and action.  From studies conducted by Lessem and Schieffer, four research paths from the Four Worlds emerge and these are:

Relational path, which is intrinsically Southern, is aligned with humanism and focus on self- sufficiency, community building and sustainability;
Path of Renewal, which is inherently Eastern and is aligned with holism development and conscious evolution;
Path of Reason, which is innately Northern, is aligned with rationalism social economy, knowledge creation and modernisation; and
Path of Realization, which is quintessentially Western and is aligned with pragmatism living economy, sustainable development and growth.

    
The full and complete structure of Integral Research and Innovation trajectories as discussed by Lessem and Schieffer (2010:57) is given below in Fig.1.
    
However, the nature and structure of the research work may focus on using ICTs and perhaps other appropriate technologies to enhance food security and sustainable socio-economic development primarily in rural communities in Zimbabwe.  This focus should be able to fall in one or more segments of the above methodology paths.

 
In conducting the research work and analysing the appropriate research methods, it is clear that we would be dealing with technology adoption, adaptation and utilisation in society and hence the socio-technical design systems approach.  The research would as expected in academia,combine selected relevant research studies from local and international researchers.It should also be informed by practical experiences and knowledge gathered by the researcher from interacting with professionals and other stakeholders. The grounding of the research project, the various activity sectors of the selected community or society and the cross-cutting nature of ICTs (the technology component) pose several challenges where one research method fails to independently and comprehensively examine all key aspects necessary to address, in this case, the selected research question.

 

It is therefore proposed to examine and adapt a triangulation approach and incorporate the Southern Relational Path, the Eastern Path of Renewal methodologies, the Mixed Method Model and Socio-technical Design model.  While the first two methodologies mentioned above are known and often adopted in integral research and social innovation studies, the mixed methods model and socio-technical design model are being incorporated to acknowledge the interrelationship that now exist where society is evolving and technology diffusion in society is widespread. This triangulation or multiple model approach incorporating the mixed method model and the socio-technical design model becomes relevant. Data and information are gathered, analysed and discussed within the context of the above models.

 
3.Instruments for Information Gathering

Any research is based on gathering credible and validated data and information that will be analysed and discussed in order to address the research question. Most research work use the following instruments to facilitate data collection:

 
Questionnaires:

These are used to support information gathering in the community. The parameters under investigation should include availability of communication and transport infrastructure, ICT equipment and their uses, ICT literacy levels, mobile coverage and access to mobile equipment and accessories.

 Interviews and discussions:

Interviews and discussions should be held with people in the community to assess their current challenges, ICT literacy, expectations, desires and appreciation of new technologies. It is important for the people in the community to participate in the selection of appropriate technologies that address challenges faced in the community.  The discussions also inform the people more importantly on the proper use, maintenance and management of the new technologies.

 
The discussion groups through proper ideation processes also bring out the community strengths, opportunities and available potential.  The gap analysis identi