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Digitisation and E-Commerce: A Curse or a Blessing for Rural Areas?
Client:Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE NRW)
Partner(s):TU Dortmund University / Faculty of Spatial Planning; University Bonn / Geographical Institute
Time frame:02/2019 – 07/2020

Digitalisation and e-commerce are associated with challenges, but also with opportunities for supply in rural areas. The project aims to contribute to a stronger focus on existing potentials and an intensive exchange of innovative concepts and promising strategies in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In order to achieve this goal, the project will create the necessary knowledge base: On the one hand, an analysis of the current purchasing behaviour in various rural areas of the country will be carried out; on the other hand, an up-to-date overview of good examples of new "business models" from home and abroad will be compiled. The insights gained will then be discussed in an intensive dialogue with experts and actors from practice in order to make them useful for the further development of care in the rural areas of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The project focuses on the following questions:

  • What is the shopping behaviour in rural areas like? To what extent do spatial and socio-economic determinants influence Internet shopping?
  • What potential does digitalisation offer for safeguarding the supply situation in rural areas? What good examples are there at home and abroad?
  • How can online offline strategies be successfully implemented on site?

The Hochsauerlandkreis, the district of Euskirchen and the district of Höxter were selected as research areas for this project. The basis for the selection was the nationwide typification of rural areas published in 2016 by the Thünen Institute for Rural Areas. The empirical study focuses on a telephone survey of 1,500 citizens in 15 municipalities of the three selected districts.


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