Researching women's ICT-based enterprise for development: methods, tools and lessons from fieldwork

Researching women's ICT-based enterprise for development: methods, tools and lessons from fieldwork

Reflections on research and fieldwork processes of women's ICT-based enterprises in Kerala

The paper reports on, and draws lessons from, experiences in researching a group of ICT-based enterprises (mainly doing data entry, IT training, and hardware assembly work) run by cooperatives of poor women in Kerala state, India. The paper presents reflections on the research and fieldwork process. It describes the multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach to research used to develop the fieldwork instruments for this project as well as describing the issues and lessons emerging from their application.

Key lessons from the research include:

  • relevant disciplines to draw from when developing research instruments include gender studies, business/management studies, development studies, and technology studies
  • relevant methods to employ include story-telling, group discussion, individual questionnaire survey, key informant interviews, document analysis, and observation. Many of these can be incorporated into a case study framework
  • holistic research can run into problems of repetition, time consumption, and methodological limitations. The parameters of the particular research project will determine the extent to which these can be addressed.
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