Investigating cultural heritage data integration with an ANT perspective

M. Strong, Nick Letch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the difficulties encountered when integrating e-Government systems across jurisdictions. The study focusses on the entanglement of social and technical interests involved in e-Government integration projects and in particular on managing the tensions which arise between global and local network actors. Design/methodology/approach: A case study of Australia's first attempt to make the nation's cultural collections accessible from a single online resource is conducted based on extensive archival data. This historical analysis applies concepts associated with Actor-Network Theory as a theoretical lens to investigate relationships between various actors and to trace the trajectory of the project. Findings: The analysis reveals that although the project originated from large institutions, buy-in was restricted to individuals and the most significant value was for smaller organisations. Furthermore, although the global networks that governed the project could translate their visions through the local production networks, because the network's underlying weaknesses were never addressed, over time this destabilised the global vision. Finally, this case study demonstrates the true value in data consolidation projects can often be in delivering functions that were not originally imagined by the system designers. Research limitations/implications: Given the case study method, the findings of this study are likely to be idiosyncratic and not all integration projects will follow a similar trajectory. However, it is also unlikely that any national data integration initiative will follow a truly linear trajectory. Future research should focus on approaches to managing the negotiations between global and local actors. Practical implications: This case study offers advice for projects attempting to consolidate data sources from disparate sources, highlighting the importance of key individual actors; identifying suitable technology artefacts; and aligning the needs of the local networks with the global vision. Originality/value: The study highlights the need to align local and global interests in e-Government integration projects and provides advice for projects attempting to consolidate data sources from disparate sources. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-340
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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