Research Output

Hyperlocal Government Engagement online.

  Executive Summary
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

  • Type:

    Research Report

  • Date:

    30 November 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Communities and Culture Network

  • Library of Congress:

    QA76 Computer software

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    005.437 User interfaces


Cruickshank, P. & Ryan, B. (2014). Hyperlocal Government Engagement online. Edinburgh, Scotland: Communities and Culture Network



Community Councils; Community of Practice; digital engagement; internet; social media;

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