Dr Dorothea Kleine


Consultancy/advisory work for UNICEF, UNEP, EuropeAid, DFID, GIZ, IDRC, CSIR, private sector organisations (including GSMA, Nokia), as well as international and local NGOs. 


Personal profile

Dr Dorothea Kleine is Reader in Human Geography and Director of the ICT4D Centre at RHUL (affiliated with the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D) – www.ict4dc.org – which brings together researchers working in the field of information and communication technologies and development. She also directs the MSc in Practising Sustainable Development, including the specialism in ICT4D.

Her research interests include: information and communication technologies and development (ICT4D); development theories, in particular the capabilities approach; technologies, choice and participation; sustainability; ethical consumption; and regional and local economic development. Themes such as gender and justice run strongly through her work. Dr Kleine has conducted research in Latin America (Brazil; Chile), Europe (UK, Germany), South Asia (India) and Africa (Kenya; South Africa).

Dorothea Kleine has written and published extensively on these subjects and her most recent book is Technologies of Choice: ICTs, Development and the Capabilities Approach (MIT Press). Her research ranges from policy analysis and theoretical work to participatory action research, implementation, evaluation and iterative and participatory design. 

Before joining Royal Holloway, Dr Kleine held posts at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Bonn. Educated at the University of Munich (LMU and TUM) and the University of Oxford, she holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr Kleine has conducted collaborative research with and/or advised UNICEF, UNEP, EuropeAid, DFID, GIZ, IDRC, private sector organisations and NGOs.

 Roles include:

  • Faculty Associate (2014-15), Harvard University, Berkman Center for Internet and Society

  • Associate Editor, with David Grimshaw, leading the inaugural section on ICT4D in the International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (ICA-Wiley, launched 2015)  

  • Member of the ESRC Reviewer College 

  • Treasurer of the Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

  • Member of the Editorial Board of Information Technologies and International Development

  • General Programme Chair, IEEE/ACM International Conference on ICT and Development 2010; Senior Programme Committee ICTD2010; ICTD2013, ICTD2015 (all IEEE/ACM); Programme Committee IFIP WG. 9.4 conferences

  • Reviewer for Sage Publications; Edward Elgar; MIT Press; RGS-IBG Book Series; Geoforum; Environment and Planning A; Journal of International Development; European Urban and Regional Studies; Geographical Review; Information Technology for Development; Information Technologies and International Development; Interacting with Computers; Ethics and Information Technology; New Media and Society 

Research interests

Technologies and diverse approaches to development

I am interested in how discourses and practices of technology use intersect with different approaches to and practices of development. My theoretical work links the capabilities approach to development with questions of sustainability. This is paired with the realisation that development as freedom and well-being which also respects ecological limits remains an aspiration in both the global South and North.

Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICT4D)

Here I am particularly interested in operationalising Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach for the area of ICT4D. The related Choice Framework which I developed as a “living tool” for evaluation and design, is now widely used by scholars and development practitioners globally. In my ICT4D work the focus tends to rest particularly with the more marginalised actors, asking what factors co-define their ability to use the technology to expand their freedom to lead the lives they themselves value. Examples include gender and e-learning; e-government and opportunities for SMMEs; e-business and traceability for Fair Trade producers; internet access and digital rights of children and youth (esp. girls); participatory video and youth voice online.   

Local development alternatives, digital participation tools

This research focuses on the way different flows of globalisation, including economic globalisation, intersect with a “global sense of place” (Massey), offline and online. It examines local, regional and national economic development alternatives, governance processes and the role of participation within them. The analysis includes negotiations around economic, social and ecological concerns and their implications for different groups of actors. Linking the various projects is an interest in the construction and negotiation of difference (e.g. in terms of gender, ethnicity, culture and visions of a desired future) and how this relates to economic and political power relationships. Action research in this space asks which digital tools might help enhance participation or creatively disrupt dominant flows.


Research projects include:

  • 2015-16 ESRC-CONFAP Newton Grant “Food 2.0: Using mobile phones and participatory film to express visions of sustainable food futures – youth views from Rio and London” (£89,546); Joint PI with partners at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Observatorio de Favelas and Ovalhouse Theatre

  • 2014-15 TECH4RIED Project Grant “Technology for rural innovation and education” (=£78,000), Department for Science and Technology, South Africa; as Senior Scientific Advisor on the Choice Framework, collaboration with Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR)

  • 2014-15 RHUL Creativity Theme Research Fund: “Green IT in a Digital Generation” (£1000) event series co-organised by Dr Yasaman Soltan-Zadeh, Rafael Font and Vera Hoelscher   

  • 2012-2013 UNICEF  “ICT4D for child-focused development work” (£28,000); PI, with Dr David Hollow and Sammia Poveda; collaboration with UNICEF Office of Research, Florence

  • 2011-2013 ESRC-DFID Choices Project “Leveraging Buying Power for Development – Ethical consumption and public procurement in Brazil and Chile”; (ES/I033904/1, £282,753); Principal Investigator with colleagues Dr Tomás Ariztía (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) and Prof Roberto Bartholo (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

  • 2010 Systematic Review in ICT4D for UK Department for International Development (DFID) (£34,850) with Tim Unwin, David Grimshaw and Marije Geldof. Joint principal investigator in a project reviewing the evidence on ICT4D partnerships aimed at poverty reduction

  • 2008-2010 EU-EDULINK Grant (£50,000)- with Prof Tim Unwin; co-investigators in a joint grant with Joensuu University, Finland. The project links UK, Finnish, Swedish and Danish universities with universities in Ghana, Mozambique, Kenia and Senegal in order to develop joint ICT4D teaching resources.

  • 2006-2009 EPSRC Fair Tracing Project: Providing producers and consumers with enriched information about the origins of Fair Trade goods. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (Award Number EP/E009018/1, £372,762). Researcher and Project Manager within the Consortium (Bradford University, Royal Holloway, Sheffield Hallam, Oxford University), Principal Investigator at Royal Holloway.

  • 2004-2006 Met@LoGo - (www.metalogo.org) Local-level E-governance in Latin America (case studies: Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Peru). Project Director, leading group of researchers at the Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research, London, within the wider project consortium. Project funded by the EU @Lis programme, received European Commission's E-government Good Practice Framework Award.

  • 2003-2007. Empowerment and the Limits of Choice: Microentrepreneurs, Information and Communication Technologies and State Policies in Chile. Research funded by LSE Research Scholarship and Dr. Heinz Dürr/ Zeiss-Stiftung Research Fellowship.




  • Director of the MSc in Practising Sustainable Development (incl ICT4D specialism)

  • MSc in Practising Sustainable Development – sessions on development theories, stakeholder partnerships and ethical consumption

  • Module leader of three modules on the ICT4D specialism 


    I am interested in supervising PhD students on a wide range of topics in ICT4D, development theory, Fair Trade and ethical consumption.

    Particularly, in the following areas:

  1. Operationalising Amartya Sen’s capability approach for development policy and practice
  2. The capability approach and ICT4D
  3. New digital tools for participation and co-design
  4. Gender and ICTs or online representation
  5. Traceability technologies and ethical consumption
  6. Mobile phones and ethical consumption
  7. Conceptualisations, translations and digital representations of fairness across spatial and cultural distance
  8. Big Data for decision-making in participatory planning

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