, Volume 84, Issue 6, pp 1567–1595 | Cite as

Diffusion of GIS in Uganda: the role of change agents, opinion leaders, champions, social network links and re-invention

  • Sami EriaEmail author


This paper uses the diffusion of innovations theory to analyse the role played by change agents, opinion leaders, champions, social network links and re-invention in the diffusion of GIS technology in a developing country, Uganda. Understanding the roles played by each of these elements leads to a more complete picture of the diffusion process of information systems, particularly within the context of the developing world. Mixed methods were used for data collection and analysis. Diffusion of innovations theory was employed in the analysis and a comparison made with the Universal Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. The findings indicate that change agents, opinion leaders, champions, social network links, and re-invention play a significant role in the diffusion of GIS technology in Uganda. The paper makes a contribution to the literature on GIS diffusion in developing countries.


GIS diffusion Change agents Opinion leaders Social networks Champions Re-invention Developing countries Uganda UTAUT 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. AlGhamdi, R., Nguyen, A., Nguyen, J., & Drew, S. (2012). Factors influencing E-commerce adoption by retailers in Saudi Arabia: A quantitative analysis. International Conference on Internet Studies,8(1), 83–100.Google Scholar
  2. Antenucci, J. C., Antenucci, R., & Smith, J. W. (2010). Private sector applications. In J. D. Bossler, J. B. Campbell, R. B. Mcmaster, & C. Rizos (Eds.), Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology (pp. 761–776). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  3. Apunyo, R. (2006). Managing wetlands with changing times-Uganda’s experience. Kampal, Uganda. Available at
  4. Balogun, E. E. (2004). Milestones and challenges of ARCSSTE-E. In 47th Session of the United Nations Committee on the peaceful uses of outer space (COPUOS), June 211, 2004, Vienna, Austria (p. 33). Vienna, Austria: United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Available at
  5. Baryamureeba, V., & Nerbonne, J. (2011). NUFFIC: Strengthening ICT training and research capacity in the four Public Universities in Uganda, Final Project Report. Kampala, Uganda. Available at
  6. Bos, E., Muhweezi, A., & West, K. (2005). From conversion to conservation: Fifteen Years of managing wetlands for people and the environment in Uganda. Kampala, Uganda; Nairobi, Kenya: Kampala, UG: Wetlands Inspection Division; Nairobi, KE: IUCN, Eastern Africa Regional Programme. Available at
  7. Cavric, B. I., Nedović-Budić, Z., & Ikgopoleng, H. G. (2003). Diffusion of GIS technology in Botswana. The Interdisciplinary Design and Research e-Publication (IDRP),25(2), 195–219.Google Scholar
  8. Cho, Y., Hwang, J., & Lee, D. (2012). Identification of effective opinion leaders in the diffusion of technological innovation: A social network approach. Technological Forecasting and Social Change.,79(1), 97–106. Scholar
  9. ClarkLabs. (2015). Clark Labs: Geospatial software for monitoring and modeling the Earth system, Clark Labs: Geospatial software for monitoring and modeling the Earth system. Available at Accessed July 3, 2015.
  10. Convery, M., & Ives-Dewey, D. (2008). Champions of GIS: Municipal implementation and organizational diffusion of GIS in Pennsylvania Governments. Middle States Geographer, 41, 9–18. Available at
  11. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  12. Coulson, M. R. C., & Waters, N. M. (1991). Teaching the NCGIA curriculum evaluation program: A review and assessment. Cartographica,28(3), 94–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Creswell, J. W. (2011). When should I choose a mixed methods approach?, Sage research methods. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Scholar
  14. Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The theory of inquiry. New York: Henry Holt and Co.Google Scholar
  15. Drichi, P. (2002). National biomass study, population (English ed.). Kampala: Forest Department.Google Scholar
  16. Eria, S. (2012). The State of GIS in Developing Countries: A Diffusion and GIS & Society Analysis of Uganda, and the Potential for Mobile Location-Based Services. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. Available at
  17. Eria, S., & McMaster, R. B. (2017). ‘GIS diffusion in Uganda. International Journal of Geographical Information Science,31(5), 884–906. Scholar
  18. ESRI. (2015). Environmental Systems Research Institute, ESRI. Available at Accessed July 3, 2015.
  19. Foster, C., & Heeks, R. (2013). Innovation and scaling of ICT for the bottom-of- the-pyramid. Journal of Information Technology,28(4), 296–315. Scholar
  20. GIC. (2010). SDI Presentation to GEO-IM Working Group (pp. 1–10). Kampala.Google Scholar
  21. GIC and ESRI-Canada. (2010). First interim report: Technical assistance for spatial data infrastructure development outcomes, Uganda, Development. Toronto, Canada and Kampal, Uganda.Google Scholar
  22. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. London: Wiedenfeld and Nicholson. Available at
  23. GoU. (2005). The Local Governments (Amendment) Act, 2005. Uganda: Government of Uganda.Google Scholar
  24. GoU and UNFPA. (2010). The state of Uganda population report 2010, Population (English ed.). Kampala, Uganda. Available at
  25. Goulet, L. R., & Frank, M. L. (2002). Organizational commitment across three sectors: Public, non-profit, and for-profit. Public Personnel Management,30(2), 201–210. Scholar
  26. Gouws, Tina, & Van Oudtshoorn, G. P. R. (2011). Correlation between brand longevity and the diffusion of innovations theory. Journal of Public Affairs,11(4), 236–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hall, R. H. (1987). Organizations: Structures, processes, and outcomes (4th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.Google Scholar
  28. Iyengar, R., Van den Bulte, C., & Valente, T. W. (2011). Opinion leadership and social contagion in new product diffusion. Marketing Science,30(2), 195–212. Scholar
  29. Kerski, J. J. (2008). Geographic information systems in education. In J. P. Wilson & S. A. Fotheringham (Eds.), The handbook of geographic information science (pp. 540–556). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Kim, C., & Baylor, A. L. (2008). A virtual change agent: Motivating pre-service teachers to integrate technology in their future classrooms. Educational Technology and Society,11(2), 309–321.Google Scholar
  31. Lo, C. P., & Yeung, A. K. W. (2007). Concepts and techniques in geographic information systems. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.Google Scholar
  32. Lwasa, S., Bamutaze, Y., Karatunga, A., Muhwezi, B. J., Mukwaya, P., & Sjaak, D., et al. (2006). National spatial data infrastructure workshop. In National spatial data infrastructure workshop, 7th June 2006, Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (pp. 1–29). Kampala: Makerere University.Google Scholar
  33. Masser, I., & Craglia, M. (1996). A comparative evaluation of GIS diffusion in local government in nine European Countries. In I. Masser, H. Campbell, & M. Craglia (Eds.), GIS diffusion: The adoption and use of geographical information systems in local government in Europe (pp. 211–228). London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  34. Mooneyhan, W. D. (1998). International Applications of GIS. In T. W. Foresman (Ed.), The history of geographic information systems: Perspectives from the Pioneers (pp. 349–366). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.Google Scholar
  35. Muhwezi, B. J. (2006). Solving complexities in implementation of SDI in Uganda, Development. Kampala, Uganda. Available at
  36. Musinguzi, M. (2003). Spatial data infrastructureA new challenge for GIS application in Uganda. Mukono, Uganda.Google Scholar
  37. Mustaffa, N., Ibrahim, F., Mahmud, W. A. W., Ahmad, F., Kee, C. P., & Mahbob, M. H. (2011). Diffusion of innovations: The adoption of Facebook among youth in Malaysia. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal,16(3), 1–15.Google Scholar
  38. Myers, S., Zhu, C., & Leskovec, J. (2012). Information diffusion and external influence in networks. In KDD’12 The 18th ACM SIGKDD international conference on knowledge discovery and data mining (pp. 1–9). Beijing, China: ACM.
  39. NAPE. (2009). Oil Economy. In NAPE Lobby, June, (pp. 1–24).Google Scholar
  40. Noongo, E. N. (2007). The Implementation of Geographic Information Systems in Namibia. Joensuu: Social Science Publications, University of Joensuu, Sweden. Available at
  41. NPA. (2010). National Development Plan (2010/11–2014/15), Development. Kampala: Government of Uganda.Google Scholar
  42. NPA. (2015). Second National Development Plan (NDPII), 2015/2016–2019/20 (p. 315). Kampala: National Plannig Authority, Government of Uganda. Available at
  43. NRC. (2002). Down to earth: Geographical information for sustainable development in Africa. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  44. Olafsson, A. S., & Skov-Petersen, H. (2014). The use of GIS-based support of recreational trail planning by local governments. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy,7(2), 149–168. Scholar
  45. Ribot, F. (1989). Télédétection en Afrique subsaharienne, bilan régional. In Télédétection en Francophonie, (AUPELF-UREF, John Libbey Eurotext, Paris) (pp. 17–34). Available at
  46. RMCA. (2015). Earth Sciences, Royal Museum for Central Africa. Available at Accessed July 5, 2015.
  47. Rogers, E. M. (1993). The diffusion of innovations model. In I. Masser & H. J. Onsrud (Eds.), Diffusion and use of geographic information technologies (pp. 9–24). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  50. Stanely, R. (2012). Finding Success on the Oil Frontier, New York Times. Available at Accessed May 27, 2018.
  51. Starling, G. (2011). The Nature of Public Administration. In Merrill, C. (Ed.), Managing the Public Sector. (9th ed., pp. 1–48.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Available at
  52. Sui, D. Z., & Morril, R. (2004). Computers and geography: From automated geography to digital earth. In S. D. Brunn, S. L. Cutter, & J. W. Harrington Jr. (Eds.), Geography and technology (pp. 81–109). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (Eds.) (2003). Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. SAGE. Available at Accessed December 24, 2011.
  54. Taylor, F. D. R. (1986). Computer assisted cartography in developing nations. In AutoCartoDigital mapping and spatial information systems: Proceedings of the international conference on the acquisition, management and presentation of spatial data (Vol. 2, pp. 462–471). Available at
  55. Taylor, F. D. R. (1998). Modern cartography, policy issues and the developing nations: Rhetoric and reality. In F. D. R. Taylor (Ed.), Policy issues in modern cartography (pp. 185–214). Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tchindjang, M., Menga, V. F., Makak, J. S., Nghonda, J. P., Nziengui, M., & Edou, M. (2005). Remote sensing in Africa: Mapping approach and perspectives. In Proceedings of the 22nd international cartographic conference (ICC), Coruna, Spain, July 916, 2005 (p. 10). Coruna, Spain. Available at
  57. Tolba, A., & Mourad, M. (2011). ‘Individual and cultural factors affecting diffusion of innovation. Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies,5(1), 203–218. Scholar
  58. Toppen, F. J. (1991). GIS eduction in the Netherlands: A bit of everything and everything about a BIT? Cartographica,28(3), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Touzani, A. (2006). Activités du Centre R Régional Africain des Sciences et Technologies de l’Espace en Langue Française (CRASTE CRASTE-LF). In 49ème Session du Comité des Utilisations Pacifiques de l’Espace ExtraAtmosphAtmosphérique, Vienna, Austria, June 716, 2006 (pp. 1–35). Vienna: United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Available at
  60. Turyareeba, P., & Drichi, P. (2001), Plan for Development of Uganda’s Biomass Energy Strategy, Energy Policy. Kampala, Uganda.Google Scholar
  61. UgandaParliament. (2016). Oil production to start in 2020, Parliamentary News. Available at Accessed May 27, 2018.
  62. UgandaWetlands, UBOS, ILRI, & WRI. (2009). Mapping a better future: How spatial analysis can benefit wetlands and reduce poverty in Uganda, Wetlands. Kampala, Uganda and Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  63. UNEP. (1972). Report of the United Nations conference on the Human Environment, United Nations Environmental ProgrammeEnvironment for Development. Available at
  64. USDoS. (2008). Global dialogues on emerging science and technology (GDEST). Washington, DC. Available at
  65. Valente, T. W. (2005). Network models and methods for studying the diffusion of innovations. In P. J. Carrington, J. Scott, & S. Wasserman (Eds.), Models and methods in social network analysis (pp. 98–116). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scholar
  66. Van Eck, P. S., Jager, W., & Leeflang, P. S. H. (2011). Opinion leaders’ role in innovation diffusion: A simulation study. Journal of Product Innovation Management,28(2), 187–203. Scholar
  67. Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User acceptance of information technology: Towards a unified view. MIS Quarterly,27(3), 425–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vonk, G., Geertman, S., & Schot, P. (2007). New technologies stuck in old hierarchies: The diffusion of geo-information technologies in Dutch Public Organizations. Public Administration Review, 67(4), 745–756. Available at
  69. Wang, A., Redington, L., Steinmetz, V., & Lindeman, D. (2011). The ADOPT model: Accelerating diffusion of proven technologies for older adults. Ageing International,36(1), 29–45. Scholar
  70. Weisfeld-Spolter, S., & and Thakkar, M. (2011). Is a designer only as good as a star who wears her clothes? Examining the roles of celebrities as opinion leaders for the diffusion of fashion in the US teen market. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 15(2), 133–144. Available at
  71. West, R. E., Waddoups, G., & Graham, C. R. (2007). Understanding the experiences of instructors as they adopt a course management system. Educational Technology Research and Development,55(1), 1–26. Scholar
  72. Wirth, W., Von Pape, T., & Karnowski, V. (2008). An integrative model of mobile phone appropriation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,13(3), 593–617. Scholar
  73. WorldBank. (2014). Updated income classifications, data. Available at Accessed April 9, 2015.
  74. WorldBank. (2017). Uganda, country data: Uganda. Available at

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Systems Research InstituteRedlandsUSA

Personalised recommendations