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Hyperlocal Government Engagement online

Cruickshank, Peter; Ryan, Bruce



This report presents a seed research project funded by the CCN+, that investigated digital engagement by three neighbouring Scottish Community Councils (CCs) in a distinct area of a Scottish city. Recent work had shown that CCs generally do not use the internet well to engage with their citizens, despite being required to find and deliver citizens’ views to Local Authorities. In fact, over half had no observable internet presence, while a large proportion of CCs that earlier had informative internet presences no longer do so. Therefore there is a pressing need to learn how CCs’ internet use can be strengthened so that CCs can live up to their requirements.

This project researched whether the Community of Practice model could be used to understand relationships between CC members involved in digital engagement work, and to find techniques to improve practices. Interviews with CC members investigated how knowledge was and could be managed and the digital tools desired for digital engagement work. Action research was used to follow and support a CC beginning to use Twitter as a dissemination and engagement channel, to understand whether it could sustainably generate social capital despite CCs’ low budgets and voluntary nature.

A Community of Practice was found supporting the digital engagement practitioners in the neighbouring CCs, and that this is situated within a context of interested non-practitioners who share knowledge with practitioners. However, the Community of Practice is fragile, and knowledge management is conspicuously absent. Knowledge management is also not used other CCs that have fuller suites of digital engagement channels. The action research strand showed that active use of Twitter can increase engagement with citizens, and that collaboration brings unexpected rewards.

This project investigated only one digital initiative set within one small Community of Practice. It is proposed to continue this work by investigating CCs’ digital communication across Scotland – and similar organisations in other context – starting with bringing together CC members involved in digital engagement work from across Scotland, understanding the barriers they face and the solutions they have found, and starting to build relationships that can help share good practices

Report Type Research Report
Publication Date 2015
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2015
Publicly Available Date Oct 6, 2020
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Community Councils; Community of Practice; digital engagement; internet; social media;
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