the focus group led by Martha Stone in November-December 1999,
participants recommended that Orbicoms secretariat carry
out a survey of the Network members to identify:
research / project interests of the Chair holders and Associate
2. The responsibilities and functions of the Orbicom Network
3. The tools used and the limitations of a networking environment
survey is the second step identified by Martha Stone as part of
the summary of the focus group discussions to prepare the electronic
forum which will be held March 13-31.
on the Collected Data
by Martha Stone and the Secretariat team, the questionnaire gave
priority to open-ended questions in order to gather the most qualitative
information possible. The 18 questions organized according to
three themes (personal profile, the Orbicom Network and networking)
received two types of answers in general: either quantitative
and concise or qualitative and detailed. This information was
considered while processing the responses. Consequently, the synthesis
presents both the main overall results and a chart accompanied
by selected comments made by the respondents.
it came to describing research / project interests (the questions
from Theme #1), Members answered clearly and with tangible enthusiasm.
Furthermore, the accompanying figures show that these questions
obtained the highest response rates.
this, we can make the following observations:
Research / project interests in the area of communication and
international development are the focus of 24.6% of the Membership.
It must nonetheless be noted that, of the possible choices for
this question, the response "Others" dominated (32.3%). More than
one third of the projects identified by Members are not necessarily
related to the seven themes adopted by Orbicom. The research and
work interests given by the Members are in areas such as biotechnology,
politics, womens rights, administration and space law.
International organizations are Members primary collaborators
and partners with a proportion of 26.2%. Next came contacts with
academia and individual contacts. Partnerships with the private
sector came in eighth place with a response rate of 9.2%.
63.1% of Members have experience as part of a research/work network
at the local and/or national level. Specifically, this percentage
is 53.6% for the regional level and 50.8% for the international
level. Responses to this question show that Members either gave
numerous details on their experiences by outlining the nature
of the projects they are working on or simply stated their level
main feature of the Network is without a doubt the sharing of
knowledge and experiences with other professionals and academics,
both belonging to and outside the same sector (Question 2.1).
One third of Members identified sharing knowledge as the main
advantage of the Orbicom Network.
feedback received for Question #1 was confirmed by the opinions
of Question #2, which covered the contributions that Members wish
to make to strengthen the Network. 40% of Members wish to participate
in research projects, discussions and seminars in order to share
their points of view and work experiences in general.
the other hand, Questions (2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6) regarding the responsibilities
of Chair holders and Associate members, as well as the role of
the Orbicom secretariat appear to have been problematic. Members
seem to have difficulty detailing the nature of these responsibilities.
In fact, the choice "Did not answer question" received
the highest response rate almost systematically.
it appears that the respondents are unaware of the role and purpose
of the committees because approximately 40% of Members believe
that the current structure of the committees does not allow Orbicom
to develop a research program that corresponds to the Members
to the questions on Orbicom nonetheless show that contacts and
information exchanges are considered by Members to be pre-requisite
to the functioning and sustainability of the Network. Whether
it be from the point of view of strengthening the Network, establishing
new alliances with various organizations (NGOs, UNESCO, other
international agencies, etc.) or helping Chair holders and Associate
members to work together, communication is a must. The Orbicom
Website is the means of choice to attain this objective.
regards to the tools used and the limitations of a network environment,
Members consider that:
For the vast majority of Members (61.5%), e-mail discussion groups
allow the highest level of interactivity between Members. Using
this tool encourages sharing experiences with individuals located
far away from one another and entails savings in both time and
money. Next came electronic forums via Websites, with collective
publications drawing up the rear.
Members unequivocally identified e-mail (70% of respondents) as
the method of choice for participating in electronic discussion
groups. However, simply because 60% of Members indicate that they
prefer electronic mail, it does not mean that they use it on a
regular basis. Members maintain that they still prefer direct,
real contact with humans.
two main limitations to using electronic tools that were identified
by Members are the lack of synchronization (12.5%) and the lack
of direct human contact (10.7%). As best stated by one of the
respondents, "People create projects, not tools."
As far as the information on the Orbicom Website is concerned,
approximately 40% of Members responded that they are most interested
in reading the current news items. This being said, many respondents
indicated that they did not have the time to consult the site.
Implementing a distribution list of key information points is
an avenue worth investigating.
Participant responses to this survey reveal that Members are interested
in learning about the research projects and work of other Network
members, which confirms in part the data gathered for the questions
of the second theme covering knowledge and experience sharing.
From this point of view, Orbicoms Website has the potential
to play an instrumental role in such a venture.
majority of respondents were male, with a proportion of 73.8%.
areas represented are Europe (35.4%), North America (23.1%), Pacific
Asia (21.5%), Africa (10.8%) and Latin America (9.2 %).
the 65 respondents, 11 were Chair holders.
questionnaire was mailed out to all 251 Network members in early
January, and followed up by e-mail and fax on January 17. By the
end of this step, 23 questionnaires had been returned.
the response rate, a second electronic follow-up accompanied by
telephone calls was carried out on February 1-12, 2000. As of
February 18, a total of 65 questionnaires had been received, which
translates to 26% of the Network membership.
the responses took place during the week of February 12. To simplify
processing the data, categories of analysis were identified for
each question. In keeping with this approach, the results are
presented in a quantitative fashion (number of responses and percentage.)
Answers and Comments for each Question
tables in Appendix provide a more precise
breakdown of the Members responses. Upon examining the compiled
results, it becomes evident that not every respondent answered
all the questions. This explains the disparities in the responses
and percentages obtained from one question to the next
many questions yielded a total number of responses greater than
65 (the number of participants) because they were multiple-choice
term "member" is used to refer to both Chair Holders and Associate
Members of the Orbicom Network. Except when stated otherwise,
the exact title will be used.
Orbicom Forum on Networking informal survey was concluded on February
12, 2000. A summary of the results is available at the following
are invited to consult this document, along with the synthesis
written by Martha Stone following the focus group from November-December
this information will allow us to identify the issues and difficulties
brought to our attention by Network Members and begin the third
phase of follow-up activities to the April 1999 General Assembly,
The Electronic Forum, which will take place March 13-31,
are invited to take part in the Electronic Forum on Networking,
which will take another look at the main topics of discussion
identified while processing the respondents feedback.