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Open Data Intermediaries in Developing Countries

August 18, 2015

This paper is second of four in our second phase of research on Open Data in Developing Countries. These projects show the social, political and legal sides of open data that are too often overshadowed by the technical aspects in the debate. For an overview of the project please see our blog.


The roles of intermediaries in open data is insufficiently explored; open data intermediaries are often presented as single and simple linkages between open data supply and use. This synthesis research paper offers a more socially nuanced approach to open data intermediaries using the theoretical framework of Bourdieu’s social model, in particular, his concept of species of capital as informing social interaction. The study is based on the analysis of a sample of cases from the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries Project (ODDC) project. Data on intermediaries were extracted from the ODDC reports according to a working definition of an open data intermediary presented in this paper, and with a focus on how intermediaries link actors in an open data supply chain. The study found that open data supply chains may comprise multiple intermediaries and that multiple forms of capital may be required to connect the supply and use of open data. Because no single intermediary necessarily has all the capital available to link effectively to all sources of power in a field, multiple intermediaries with complementary configurations of capital are more likely to connect between power nexuses. This study concludes that consideration needs to be given to the presence of multiple intermediaries in an open data ecosystem, each of whom may possess different forms of capital to enable the use and unlock the potential impact of open data.




Open Data Intermediaries in Developing Countries

By François van Schalkwyk, Michael Caňares, Sumandro Chattapadhyay & Alexander Andrason



This project is supported by the Open Data for Development (OD4D) program, a partnership funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the World Bank, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).