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

Caitlin M Bentley, Arul Chib, Sammia C Poveda


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.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441