Aid information management systems (AIMS) are information and communication technology (ICT) applications that enable donors and recipient governments to open and share aid data. Despite the popularity of AIMS and current trends favouring ‘open aid’, little research has been conducted in the field of ICT in the international aid sector. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical discussion of AIMS. To achieve these objectives, the study explores 75 AIMS which have been implemented in 70 developing countries over the last two decades. Drawing on the idea of institutional isomorphism, this study offers a historical overview of AIMS and explains their driving forces and evolution. By using content analysis, it also provides an understanding of the main rhetoric inscribed in AIMS and how this has changed over time. In spite of significant attention given to new technologies and heavy investments made in AIMS, many cases have not achieved the anticipated outcomes that the rhetoric of AIMS promised, and even failed to reach sustainability (43%). The analysis enables us to highlight the complexity of problems surrounding AIMS. This calls for a new approach to the way we promote and implement AIMS, as well as more in-depth study to understand institutional and political challenges in each context.