Toward a Conceptual Framework for ICT for Development: Lessons Learned from the Cube Framework Used in Latin America (English)

Martin Hilbert


The ICT for development community has long searched for comprehensive and adequate conceptual frameworks. In 2003, the United Nations Regional Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) proposed a three-dimensional conceptual framework that models the transition toward information societies as the interplay among technology, policy, and social change. It has its theoretical roots in Schumpeterian innovation theory. This so-called “cube framework” has been adopted on several occasions throughout the region at the local, national, and international levels. It has been employed in all stages of the policy cycle to identify areas and priorities for research and hands-on policy making (planning), to coordinate actors and stakeholders (execution), and to monitor progress toward information societies (evaluation). This article presents the framework and its particularities, reviews some of the diverse applications it has found during recent years, provides concrete suggestions on how it could be used in the future, and discusses its strengths and limitations. The cube is not a dynamic model that can make predictions, but it turns out to be useful as a conceptual framework; it can be used to structure the often-confused discussion about what is involved in the ongoing social transformation.

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