Towards effective management and preservation of digital cultural heritage resources: an exploration of contextual factors in Ghana
In today’s world of digital technologies, cultural heritage institutions, particularly in developed countries, are seeking ways to create national digital memories for the future of the citizenry. However, rapidly developing technologies and their concomitant technological obsolescence put future memories at risk. The challenge is enormous in developing countries that, when compared to their developed counterparts, lack adequate resources and technologies for effective digital resources management and preservation. As a developing country, Ghana appears ready to face the challenges of effective digital resources management. The country has developed programmes and a national policy on information and communication technologies (ICTs) for accelerated development. However, Ghana does not appear to be effective in managing or preserving digital cultural heritage resources. An interpretive case research design involving 27 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from 23 institutions was used to explore the various contextual factors influencing the management and preservation of digital cultural heritage resources (or DPM). Rogers’ (2003) “diffusion of innovation” (DOI) theory and Davies’ (2000) “policy, strategy and resources” (PSR) troika model provided a basis for a preliminary model of factors to guide the research. Although the DPM innovation was not fully diffused in Ghana, related activities at the base, middle and higher levels of the Ghanaian social system were unintentionally fostering the adoption process. Four main clusters of contextual factors that were influencing the DPM adoption process in Ghana were identified: attitudinal, resources-related, policy-related, and managerial factors. Key stakeholders perceived the design of appropriate strategies, adequate resource allocation, and proper implementation of policies as key enabling factors for effective adoption of DPM in Ghana. However, a general lack of interest in cultural institutions (libraries, archives and museums) and in information management on the part of decision makers and the Ghanaian stakeholders as a whole was found to hinder DPM adoption. This study extends Information Systems (IS) research involving DOI theory and the PSR troika model into a developing country context. Attitudinal-based complexities involving misunderstandings among various tribal groups in Ghana, and resources-based complexities surrounding technology access and use, were found from the interview data and were added to the initial model which was expanded to aid in understanding the various contextual factors that influence DPM adoption in Ghana. In addition to the study contributing to theoretical understandings in IS research, it provides Ghanaian policy developers with an empirical base for accelerating adoption of DPM in Ghana. It also provides New Zealand and other digital preservation advanced countries with a deeper understanding from which to provide contextually designed advisory services to other developing countries (particularly in the Pacific Island regions) as it enables the contextual understanding of the factors from Ghana.