The generative potential of participatory geographic information systems

Dirk S. Hovorka*, Nancy Auerbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An expanded perspective on information system design paradigms reveals that information systems (IS) have a generative capacity that enables reframing and recasting reality based upon alternative values. By synthesizing research in sustainable value, generative capacity, and community-based geographic information systems (GIS), we propose that IS can empower communities to create community sustainable value as they face increasing environmental and growth challenges. This surfaces the opportunity for the design and implementation of GIS to reduce information asymmetry, empower communities, and provide a history of decision-making, thereby enabling monitoring of the components of community sustainable value. Community members may incorporate local data, present alternative development/conservation scenarios, and gain a voice in the planning process. As Web-enabled GIS and low-cost analytic systems become accessible, the system design process itself represents an opportunity for situated social action in the formation of community sustainable values. Synthesizing these perspectives, we put forward the view that GIS development and use at a community level is a potentially constructive social process of value formation that can enable communities to envision their own futures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Appreciative Inquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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