Date: May 2014
Creator: Masten-Cain, Kathryn
Description: This dissertation presents a preliminary grounded theory of community networking based on 63 evaluations of community networking projects funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) between 1994 and 2007. The substantive grounded theory developed is that TOP projects differed in their contribution to positive outcomes for intended disadvantaged community beneficiaries based on the extent and manner in which they involved the disadvantaged community during four grant process phases: partnership building, project execution, evaluation, and close-out. Positive outcomes for the community were facilitated by using existing communication channels, such as schools, to connect with intended beneficiaries; local financial institutions to provide infrastructure to support local trade; and training to connect community members to jobs. Theoretical contributions include situating outcomes for disadvantaged communities within the context of the grant process; introducing the “vulnerable community” concept; and identifying other concepts and properties that may be useful in further theoretical explorations. Methodological contributions include demonstrating grounded theory as a viable method for exploring large text-based datasets; paving the way for machine learning approaches to analyzing qualitative data; and illustrating how project evaluations can be used in a similar fashion as interview data. Practical contributions include providing information to guide ...
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