Dr Dorothea Kleine

Personal profile

Dr Dorothea Kleine is Reader in Human Geography and Director of the ICT4D Centre, a part of the ICT4D Collective/UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at RHUL, which brings together researchers working in the field of information and communication 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; Fair Trade; ethical consumption; and sustainable regional and local economic development. Themes such as gender and justice run throughout her work. Dr Kleine has worked in Latin America (Chile; Brazil), Europe (UK, Germany), South Asia (India) and Africa (Kenya; South Africa).

Dorothea Kleine's most recent book is Technologies of Choice: ICTs, Development and the Capabilities Approach (MIT Press, 2013). Her work ranges from policy analysis and theoretical work to participatory action research, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 

Before joining Royal Holloway, Dorothea Kleine held posts as Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and as Lecturer at Bonn University. Educated at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München 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 Centre 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, forthcoming 2014)  
  • 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; 2013, 2014 
  • Reviewer for Sage Publications; Edward Elgar; MIT Press; RGS-IBG Book Series; Environment and Planning A; Geoforum; European Urban and Regional Studies; Geographical Review; Interacting with Computers; New Media and Society; Ethics and Information Technology; Journal of International Development; 


Research interests

Globalisation and ethical trade

Discourses of development, environment, aid, trade and globalisation and how they intersect; global value chains and ethical consumerism in the UK and Germany; the perspective of producer cooperatives in Chile and India; the Fair Trade movement as a multi-level model. Critical perspectives on corporate social responsibility, environmental impacts and social marketing.

Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICT4D)

Here I am particularly interested in operationalising Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach for the area of ICT4D. I have developed a specific framework, the Choice Framework which can be used as a malleable “living tool” to this end. Sectorally, I have worked on the effects of e-business, e-procurement and e-government initiatives on local and regional economies as well as on E-Learning opportunities and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The focus here is particularly on the more disadvantaged actors, asking what factors co-define their ability to use the technology to expand their freedom to lead the lives they themselves value.

Local and regional economic development

Local and regional governance and participatory processes; negotiations around economic, social and ecological concerns and their implications for different groups of actors; economic empowerment and constructions of difference (e.g. gender, ethnicity); the role of social capital; cooperation and competition amongst micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

The research traces different globalisation processes at several levels in Latin America, Europe, and most recently India. Linking the various projects is an interest in the construction and negotiation of difference (e.g. in terms of gender, ethnicity or spatial distance) and how this relates to economic, social and political power relationships.


Research projects include:

  • 2011-2013 ESRC-DFID Choices Project (ES/I033904/1, £282,753), “Leveraging Buying Power for Development – Ethical consumption and public procurement in Brazil and Chile”; 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 EPSRC Research Dissemination Grant (£3,000) – grant was administered by the Dean of Graduate Studies, and involved hosting the workshop on ‘Ethical Consumption, Traceability and ICT’ at Royal Holloway (Oct 2008). The workshop led to a network of 11 open source/non-commercial websites working on a joined up ethical consumer information system (ECIS).
  • 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. PhD research funded by LSE Research Scholarship and Dr. Heinz Dürr/ Zeiss-Stiftung Research Fellowship.





  • Director of the MSc in Practising Sustainable Development
  • MSc in Practising Sustainable Development – sessions on development theories, stakeholder partnerships and ethical consumption
  • Module leader of three modules on the ICT4D specialism 


Undergraduate supervision – recent themes have included:

- Social Auditing- Making a difference or convenient whitewash?
- The motivations of Oxfam Unwrapped customers
- Consumer understandings of the carbon footprint of wine
- The relationship between Starbucks and Fair Trade
- Food price fluctuations of rice in Bangladesh
- Effects of L’Oreal’s taking over The Body Shop

MSc supervision – recent themes have included:

- The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and Policymaking in Thailand
- Sustainable Consumption in Bermuda
- Fundraising strategies of charities and NGOs in the health sector
- The role of mobile technology in eco-tourism in Scotland

For current PhD projects, please see "Supervision" tab

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. Traceability technologies and ethical consumption
  4. Mobile phones and ethical consumption
  5. Conceptualisations, translations and digital representations of fairness across spatial and cultural distance
  6. The role of gender in ethical consumption
  7. Choice, sustainable lifestyles and the post-growth economy



I have done consultancy/advisory work for EuropeAid, DFID, the German Development Agency (GIZ), InWent and to NGOs, on e-business, e-governance, e-learning and on ethical consumption.

View all (32) »

ID: 4519