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The Online Presence of Non-Profit Cluster Organizations: A Study on Automation Region’s use of the Internet

This paper focuses on the Internet and more specifically on how non-profit organizations can use the Internet to enhance their online presence. Our choice of research object is Automation Region (AR), a non-profit cluster organization, whose purpose is to strengthen and make the cluster of companies within industrial automation in Mälardalen visible.

This cluster consists of business-to-business companies in the automation industry and AR was formed to increase the productivity, growth and profitability of these companies. The organization has two goals set up, which include: (1) increased exposure for the automation industry as well as the region wherein AR operates and (2) attracting the best competence as well as getting youths and children interested in automation.

AR currently has a website (www.automationregion.com) and the overall purpose for it is to support AR’s goals. However, we have a difficulty seeing how this website, as it looks and functions today, is to achieve the goals and objectives of the cluster organization and we also find it difficult to see how AR should do in order to expose its website and its brand to its target audience. The two research questions then becomes: How is Automation Region’s website being used today? How can Automation Region utilize the Internet to achieve its goals?

Purpose:
The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how cluster organizations like Automation Region may use the Internet to achieve its goals, and by doing this also be able to give recommendations on how Automation Region can benefit from the use of the Internet as their primary channel for goal achievement.

Method – An Action Research based study:
This paper is based on an action research approach, which contains a real world problem, a framework of ideas, and a set of methodologies. The different means of collecting data used in this paper can be categorized in four separate categories: interviews, internet analysis tool, benchmarking, and other empirical data collected.

Framework of ideas:
Our framework of ideas consists of an introduction to the term clusters, which then explains the different actors on the cluster stage. Then the benefits of clusters are discussed, leading to a further discussion on how non-profit cluster organizations can utilize the possible benefits of a cluster. This leads to a presentation of different ways to improve an organizations online presence.

Analysis:
The analysis is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the results of the website analysis, where different reports from the web analysis program are analyzed. This will show how the website currently is being used and should lead to conclusions on how this usage can be improved. The second part focuses on the available Internet tools and how AR can utilize these to reach their explicit goals for the cluster organization.

Conclusions:
The so called internal visitors are plentiful on AR’s website site and we can conclude that the site is being used in an Intranet like way. Another conclusion is that AR should be able to increase the probability of achieving their goals by further enhancing the use of the Internet tools they currently have (website and e-mail), and also by expanding their online presence with the use of several other potential Internet tools.
Source: Mälardalen University
Authors: Jukkola, Mathias | Lannsjö, Markus

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