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Context Matters: The Experience of Physical, Informational and Cultural Distance in a Rural IT Firm

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The Information Society, Volume 29, Issue 2 (2013)


Distance, Distributed Work, economic impact, ICT, Regional Studies, Rural, Social Informatics


We synthesize social informatics and regional studies literature to frame an examination of the role of ICT uptake and use in the social experience of distance in a rural technology firm. Though distance is much talked about and regarded as a critical dimension in distributed work, the distinct ways that distance is experienced within a rural firm influences collaboration between the rural firm and its more urban customers is little explored. This case study town sheds light on how ICT use influences the experience of distance and collaboration in a remote location. In the first part of our results, we provide a descriptive account of the unique geographical, technical, and collaboration practice characteristics of the rural technology firm. In the second part of our results, we identify three experiences of distance: physical, cultural, and informational. We then synthesize our findings to reconstruct the role of distance and our understanding of the social experience of ICT uptake and use on how workers experience distance. These findings have implications for regional studies scholars, and suggest that understanding how specific firms succeed will increase the effectiveness of public policy directed at regional development. They also provide for the further development of the social informatics approach, and contribute to a new perspective on distance to the literature on collaboration.

  • Sep 8 2012