The role of drift in embedding planning support systems (PSS) in practice.

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Planning support systems (PSS) are geospatial innovations (methodologies, tools and technologies) integrated to support decision-making in the planning process. PSS implementation influences the outcomes in practice. However, research has not ascertained where, when, how and why such innovations become embedded in the planning process. Studies posit that the mismatch in developer versus user requirements or perceptions of PSS capabilities, usefulness and acceptance in the planning process contributes to the limited use in practice. Recent emphasis on adopting a socio-technical approach to PSS research and development (R&D) has led to more propositions on causes of limited use and questions about how to overcome the challenges of embedding them in practice.
Presently, studies omit details of changes during predefined PSS implementation that can explain what happens in practice. Hence, this study explored a different perspective to investigate how changes in PSS implementation shape embeddedness in practice. First, it built on PSS user approach studies by adopting the technology acceptance model (TAM) to explain how individual PSS acceptance initiates unexpected changes during implementation. Second, it applied the concept of drift from information systems studies to explain how unplanned changes in PSS implementation can explain the outcomes in practice. The research objective is to 1) reduce speculations about causes of limited PSS use and 2) establish the influence of "drift" in the outcomes of PSS implementation, usage and embeddedness in practice.
The research adopted a type of PSS developed in 2011 for regional and urban planning governance in parts of sub-Saharan Africa plagued with data scarcity and weak planning systems - the Spatial Development Framework (SDF) methodology. It implemented a qualitative research approach to investigate context-specific data of the SDF methodology's implementation in Rwanda. It illustrates how users' acceptance or perception of PSS initiates drift in PSS implementation. The findings highlighted how understanding and documenting drift in PSS implementation helps identify required improvisations, adjustments or compromises essential to better strategize PSS adoption and embeddedness in practice. This study confirmed the contributions of drift in PSS use and embeddedness in Rwanda's spatial planning process and set an agenda for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2023
Event35th AESOP Annual Congress 2023: Integrated Planning in a World of Turbulence - Faculty of Management, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
Duration: 11 Jul 202315 Jul 2023
Conference number: 35


Conference35th AESOP Annual Congress 2023
Internet address


  • Planning support systems(PSS)
  • Spatial Development Framework (SDF) methodology
  • Drift
  • Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)
  • Embedding geospatial innovations


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