Exploring capability and accountability outcomes of open development for the poor and marginalized: An analysis of select literature

  • Caitlin M Bentley Nanyang Technological University
  • Arul Chib Nanyang Technological University
  • Sammia C Poveda Sheffield University
Keywords: Capabilities, Accountability, Social transformation


Open development concerns the application of digitally-enabled openness to radically change human capability and governance contexts (Davies & Edwards, 2012; Smith & Reilly, 2013; Smith, Elder, & Emdon, 2011). However, what openness means, and how it contributes to development outcomes is contested (Buskens, 2013; Singh & Gurumurthy, 2013). Furthermore, the potential of open development to support positive social transformation has not yet materialized, particularly for marginalized populations (Bentley & Chib, 2016), partly because relatively little is known regarding how transformation is enacted in the field. Likewise, two promising outcomes – the expansion of human capabilities and accountability – have not been explored in detail. This research interrogates the influence of digitally-enabled openness on transformation processes and outcomes. A purposeful sample of literature was taken to evaluate outcomes and transformation processes according to our theoretical framework, which defines seven cross-cutting dimensions essential to incorporate. We argue that these dimensions explain links between structures, processes and outcomes of open development. These links are essential to understand in the area of Community Informatics as they enable researchers and practitioners to support effective use of openness by and for poor and marginalized communities to pursue their own objectives.

Author Biographies

Caitlin M Bentley, Nanyang Technological University
Caitlin Bentley has been working within the area of information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D) since 2003. She began researching the use of ICT within civil society organisations in Africa and in Canada, and has contributed to a number of projects focused on increasing inter-organisational learning and collaboration through ICT. In 2015, she started working for the Singapore Internet Research Centre at Nanyang Technological University to pursue her interests in open development, which she views as a window to address structural inequalities and to take advantage of new collaboration opportunities afforded by networked ICTs. She helped to create a programme of research on open development, within which she has co-edited a book entitled Critical Perspectives on Open Development: Empirical Interrogation of Theory Construction (due for publication in 2018), and provided support to 12 teams of researchers across the globe. Caitlin holds a PhD in Human Geography from Royal Holloway University of London, and an MA in Educational Technology from Concordia University, Canada.
Arul Chib, Nanyang Technological University

Dr. Arul Chib, Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University studies the contribution of information and communication technologies towards positive development outcomes. His research agenda focuses on the impact and role of mobile phones in healthcare systems in resource-constrained environments of developing countries, and in transnational migration to developed countries. Dr. Chib is increasingly interested in issues of power, with one research trajectory focusing on the intersection of gender with technology, and the role of agency and appropriation. As Coordinator of the SIRCA III programme, Dr. Chib oversees a global research capacity-building programme in numerous emerging economies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is increasingly questioning the role of research in influencing policy, practice, and public opinion.

Sammia C Poveda, Sheffield University

Sammia Poveda's research focuses on how to improve people’s psychosocial wellbeing, as a way to improve their empowerment, and the role ICT can play for these goals. Sammia’s doctoral research at Royal Holloway, University of London, focused on evaluating approaches to basic ICT training in Brazil, aiming to find out what elements may improve meaningful ICT appropriation and usage. Sammia is currently a Research Fellow at the United Nations University, Institute on Computing and Society. Her current research is about ICT and Psychosocial wellbeing, and ICT and Women equality. Sammia is also Information Officer of the Executive Council of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA), and runs a Latin American ICT4D discussion group in Facebook. She was a co-author of the UNICEF report, Children, ICT and Development, and was a Research Fellow for the Sheffield Institute for International Development. Before her PhD, Sammia worked in international development for four years with the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO).