Co-development of a Wiki for Tracking the Environmental Footprint of Small Business Activities

Helen Hasan, Corina Ionescu
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 20  •  2017  •  pp. 237-258

Climate change mitigation is a global challenge, in which academia and business have a role to play. This research explores ways to develop a freely-available information system that would enable small businesses to identify and reduce their environmental footprint.

While large organizations have the resources to track emissions and other pertinent data, small businesses may not, despite intentions to be more environmentally responsible. Freely available applications to track emissions focus on the carbon footprint of things, whereas activities are a more meaningful unit of analysis for business managers.

Using a design science research approach, we conducted a study of a collaborative project that investigated how a low-cost, freely-available online wiki could be developed by group of students, under the guidance of university scholars and business owners. In the project, different student groups were tasked to create the wiki, input content and design a dashboard interface for managers to find data relevant to their business. The research takes an information systems view of the project, relying on the holistic notion of activity from activity theory and taking a design science approach to the study.

The paper contributes to the practices of green information systems, climate change, and small business. Theoretically it provides new insights into the linear view of design science in resource poor, collaborative projects.

The research demonstrates the viability of an online system to track the envi-ronmental footprint of business activities. It reveals the challenges from a design science perspective of attempts to create online systems using freely available products and labor.

Meaningful information systems to assist small businesses to manage their environmental footprint should focus on activities not things, be low cost and easy to use.

Complex nonlinear design science frameworks may be needed to build community-based green information systems projects.

This paper examines the role that university-community partnerships can play in mitigating climate change.

We should now investigate ways to ensure the viability and sustainability of systems developed by groups of university students.

climate change, small business, wiki, activity theory, design science, green in-formation systems
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