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Cyberorganizing United States Constituencies for Africa

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This case study examines how state level constituencies for Africa used advanced communication technology to organize and mobilize state delegations to the National Summit on Africa with the intent of effecting United States foreign policy toward Africa. More specifically, it focuses on the application of information communication technology (ICT) usage as a communication and coordination tool by the National Summit Secretariat. Secondly, it examines the extent to which state delegations used advanced communication technology to complete the relevant task of developing a national policy planof-action. I hypothesize that ICTs might assist the National Summit by reducing costs of attracting and maintaining membership and facilitating coordination and communication both horizontally (among membership) and vertically (to policymakers). Primary data collection methods included administering a survey to state chairs, conducting semi-structured interviews, and reviewing state web-pages and e-groups. Preliminary results indicate that information technology to some extent can reduce coordination problems and barriers to participation; however, other factors, such as computer literacy, access to computers, and the ability to use alternative institutional resources, mediate the effectiveness of information technology usage. Implications for implementing information technology as a more effective tool for collective organizing are explored.


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