A Study of Scottish Community Councils’ Online Communications

Ryan, B. (2014). A Study of Scottish Community Councils’ Online Communications (MSc Information Systems Development Dissertation). Edinburgh Napier University (Cruickshank, P., Smith, C.).



In Scotland, Community Councils (CCs) are the lowest tier of government, being representative bodies for small portions of Local Authority areas and having no service-delivery duties. They have a number of issues. For example, 16% of potential CCs do not exist, while there is a paucity of candidates for those that do exist. Despite being charged with ascertaining and expressing their communities’ opinions, and despite other tiers of UK government increasing their use of online communications, recent research has shown that very few CC effectively use online techniques. In particular, the proportion using social media is very small.
This project investigated the motivations behind some CCs’ use and non-use of online communication. Semi-structured interviews were used to investigate the drivers and inhibitors behind some CCs’ online presences, while criteria for an ‘ideal’ presence were generated and used to assess actual presences. The most significant drivers and inhibitors found were cost (specifically reduced information-dissemination costs but also increased time-costs), increased effectiveness/efficiency, increased visibility, satisfaction of citizen demand and the age-related part of the digital divide. The biggest practical problem faced by those who run CC online presences is that they generally have little support, even from fellow CC members.
These drivers and motivations are considered through the lenses of models of technology uptake and success, namely Diffusion of Innovations, the Technology Acceptance Model and the DeLone and McLean information systems success model. Of these, the DeLone and McLean model appears to offer the most practical ways forward for both academic research and practical improvement of CC online presences.
Recommendations for further work include monitoring of changes in online communication use, gathering of social media data, gathering of demographic data about community councillors and quantitative use of the DeLone and McLean model to investigate maximisation of benefits stemming from CC online presences.
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Bruce Ryan
Research Associate
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