Publication Details

This paper was originally published as: Hodgkinson, A & Hasan, H, Blending diverse community capability for regional development: the case of an e-commerce initiative for local indigenous artists, 28th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Regional Science Association Inc (pp. 143-154), Beechworth, Victoria, 26-28 September 2006. Wollongong, NSW: School of Economics, University of Wollongong.


Regional communities often encompass the variety of skills and knowledge needed to take advantage of the Internet in order to open up their products and services to the global market place. They can, however, lack the foresight to identify opportunities to bring this diverse capability together and then manage it to carry out projects to successful outcomes. This paper presents a case where economic and technical expertise from a regional university has joined with exceptional artists, working in a struggling local indigenous community, to conduct a project to develop an e-commerce website both to sell their art-works and to promote their rich local culture. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory has been adopted to underpin a study of this project as it provides a multifaceted, holistic and dynamic framework for analysis and presentation of the findings. In this case of participatory research, activity is a suitable unit of analysis where the project team is a collective subject composed of individuals who bring different skills and understandings to bear on a common object, the e-commerce site. In addition to the commercial outcomes, this endeavour has provided intangible benefits in business know-how to the indigenous community. It also provides a place for them to publish their cultural heritage and is a demonstrable example of engagement in regional welfare for the university.