Understanding the way information systems grow and change over time and the role of different contributors in these processes is central to current research on software development and innovation. In relation to this, there is an ongoing discourse on how the attributes of software platforms influence who can innovate on top of them and the kind of innovations possible within the larger ecosystem of technologies and people these platforms are part of. This discourse has paid limited attention to innovation unfolding in the fringes of the ecosystems peripheral to and disconnected from where the central software components are developed and where the resources necessary for digital innovation are scarce. Drawing upon Zittrain’s characteristics of generativity and Lane’s concept of generative relationships, the key contribution of this paper is a socio-technical perspective on innovation and generativity in this setting. We build this perspective of socio-technical generativity based on a case study of software innovation activities in Malawi on top of the health information system software platform DHIS2 developed in Norway. This case illustrates how the technical attributes of the platform played a key role in concert with human relationships in shaping innovation activities in Malawi.
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