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Critical Perspectives on Open Development: Empirical Interrogation of Theory Construction

Arul Chib, Caitlin M. Bentley, and Matthew L. Smith

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Over the last ten years, “open” innovations—the sharing of information and communications resources without access restrictions or cost—have emerged within international development. But do these innovations empower poor and marginalized populations? This book examines whether, for whom, and under what circumstances the free, networked, public sharing of information and communication resources contribute (or not) toward a process of positive social transformation. The contributors offer cross-cutting theoretical frameworks and empirical analyses that cover a broad range of applications, emphasizing the underlying aspects of open innovations that are shared across contexts and domains.

The book first outlines theoretical frameworks that span knowledge stewardship, trust, situated learning, identity, participation, and power decentralization. It then investigates these frameworks across a range of institutional and country contexts, considering each in terms of the key emancipatory principles and structural impediments it seeks to address. Taken together, the chapters offer an empirically tested theoretical direction for the field.

The editors

Arul Chib is Associate Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Caitlin M. Bentley is a Lecturer at the Information School at the University of Sheffield and an Honorary Fellow at Australian National University’s 3A Institute.

Matthew L. Smith is Senior Program Specialist at the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa and coeditor of Open Development: Networked Innovations in International Development (MIT Press and IDRC) and Making Open Development Inclusive: Lessons from IDRC Research (MIT Press and IDRC).