Title: Characterising e-Inclusion intermediary actors in Europe: Exploring the role of third sector organisations
Citation: International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age vol. 1 no. 4 p. 1-20
Publisher: IGI Global
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC85649
URI: http://www.igi-global.com/journal/international-journal-public-administration-digital/70583
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Digital and social inclusion intermediaries play a crucial role in providing digital literacy to excluded groups and in using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to support social inclusion. However, information on the main characteristics of these actors is lacking. This paper presents the preliminary results of part of the MIREIA research conducted by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, which aimed to characterise eInclusion intermediary actors in Europe and measure their socio-economic impact. This paper explores the role of third sector organisations in the broader landscape of eInclusion intermediary actors. It first presents a conceptualization of the role and impacts of eInclusion intermediary actors, based on the results of a literature review and detailed 'locality mappings' conducted in three areas in Europe, in order to provide a definition of these actors. It then presents the methodology and main findings of an online survey designed to provide a 'map' of the eInclusion actors operating in Europe, answering the following questions: What are eInclusion actors? How can they be classified? Which services do they provide, to which targets groups?, and finally How do they operate and innovate? Findings show that the vast majority of eInclusion actors in the third sector are small organizations, in terms of staff numbers and budget, providing ICT services mainly to senior citizens, young adults and unemployed people. The results are consistent with the theoretical framework proposed and thus confirm that the configuration of the main characteristics of eInclusion intermediary actors is influenced by several factors including these actors' own intrinsic characteristics (mission, human and financial resources, etc.) and the external conditions (institutional environment, needs of the population where they operate, etc.). At the same time, these external factors and the different features of the intermediaries are linked and interrelated. These preliminary conclusions point to the fact that, despite the limitations inherent in the approach used, the findings presented in this paper can be considered relevant because: 1) they are the results of the first attempt in Europe to collect primary data from eInclusion intermediary actors and aim to create at least a baseline for future research; 2) the link between this activity and policy-making at EU level and the direct involvement of pan-European stakeholders and practitioners from the field will form the basis for further research and policy actions, informed by the results of the investigation; 3) the findings of the analysis provide useful insights and help shed light on the diversity and role of eInclusion intermediary actors and the contributions of their programmes to advancing social and economic inclusion in Europe. Further research is, however, required to systematise the findings and confirm the preliminary results with more in-depth investigation and analysis.
JRC Directorate:Growth and Innovation

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