Exploring Participation by Citizens Public Organisations and Businesses in an Open Data Initiative: A Scandinavian Case Study of Ocean Data

Alexander Synnes & Anders Vartdal

Student thesis: Master thesis


There is an abundance of open data available on the web, but while data is viewed as important, open data is not being used to any greater extent. This study found that open data literature lacks research of collaboration as a factor which can increase the usage of open data. To research this, the study applied the theoretical perspective of boundary organisations to investigate the social worlds of citizens, public organisations and businesses. A single case study of the Ocean Data Foundation, including 27 semi-structured interviews, resulted in the following four latent themes: a) Larger sharing systems emerge from smaller, localised interests; b) better technological solutions can increase accessibility of data but, most data is still locked up by cultural walls; c) more data does not mean more useful data; and d) it is difficult to succeed with an open data initiative without the contributing knowledge of all three social worlds. The study contributes to research with the four latent themes giving new nuances to existing literature. In addition, this study contributes to boundary organisation literature by including the social world of citizens, which have given a new view on the importance of values as a premise for participation in an open data initiative. Based on the findings, the study recommends open data initiatives to build a community around a specific purpose, break down the cultural walls which lock up data, engage a community to ensure it provides the correct data as well as build social forums around specific datasets and the sharing of capabilities. The study recommends citizens to make their voice heard; public organisations to increase collaboration and scrutinise policies; and businesses to increase transparency and use open data as a building block for digital transformation.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages108
SupervisorsRob Gleasure