Man, with light brown hair and checked shirt, on a picnic bench outside, on a laptop, during the evening.
Working in the digital age. ©

British Council

What is the opportunity?  

New digital technologies are transforming how people work, study and exchange ideas. COVID-19 has accelerated the transition already underway at the British Council and other international cultural relations organisations towards the digital delivery of projects and programmes.

Research is needed to understand what ‘digital cultural relations’ means in practice. How is the digital shift affecting the nature, outcomes and impact of international cultural relations, both across the British Council and in the cultural relations field more generally? What cultural relations outcomes and impacts do digital interventions enable that are distinct or different from face-to-face interventions? Are certain types of digital interventions and activities more effective than others in delivering demonstrable cultural relations outcomes and impact? 

We are seeking a supplier to work collaboratively with the British Council on research addressing these questions. The project will incorporate consultation, feedback and discussion with cultural relations practitioners drawn from across the British Council’s global staff network, as well as relevant external partners and stakeholders. We are interested in addressing the topic with a global lens, but with a particular focus on Official Development Assistance (ODA) contexts. Key areas of interest are the role of digital cultural relations in building trust, enabling participation and engagement, and promoting inclusion and equity.

Research objectives:

This project will focus on hypothesis generation rather than hypothesis testing. The aim is to generate new ideas and refine key questions and concepts on how digital cultural relations may generate distinct or different outcomes and impacts. 

We want the research to generate new insights that can help to set the research agenda, both for the British Council and other cultural relations organisations and researchers. This will build on the experiences of the global network of British Council colleagues that is delivering digital cultural relations ‘on the ground’. 

We expect the research to provide thought leadership for the cultural relations sector. It should enhance understanding of how to frame and approach future research and evaluation into digital cultural relations. This will include addressing whether certain types of digital interventions are more effective than others in delivering certain kinds of cultural relations outcomes. How does this vary across different sectors? How can we better understand digital audiences?

Qualifications required:

We are looking for a supplier (or consortium of suppliers) with:

  • a strong and demonstrated background in qualitative research and analysis in areas relevant to this project
  • good understanding of core concepts and approaches to evidence, evaluation and impact in cultural relations contexts
  • proven ability to work collaboratively and inclusively on participatory research projects that rely on close liaison and consultation with a range of stakeholders based in different parts of the world
  • a demonstrable commitment to equitable and inclusive research practice
  • a clear understanding of issues, opportunities and challenges relating to digital interventions and engagement in developing countries
  • demonstrable capacity to deliver a range of outputs within tight deadlines

Outputs and deadlines:

The selected supplier(s) will be expected to engage closely with British Council colleagues and stakeholders throughout the research. This approach will help to determine the exact focus of the research and its outputs.

Outputs from the research process are expected to include:

  • A review of current British Council digital programmes and activities to identify potential case studies or examples of good practice
  • A literature review of previous British Council research on digital cultural relations and external research and insight on relevant topics
  • External consultation with British Council contacts at other organisations (UK and international) involved in digital cultural relations activity
  • A series of workshops and consultations with selected British Council colleagues and external partners and stakeholders involved in delivery of digital cultural relations on the ground across our global network.

Final deliverables for the project are expected to include:

  • A thought leadership piece that will help to set the research agenda for this area for the British Council, other cultural relations organisations
  • A good practice resource for British Council colleagues, outlining key considerations when planning digital cultural relations projects
  • A slide deck summarising key findings and recommendations for future research in this area.

The deadline for completion of the research process and delivery of the above outputs is 31 March 2022.

How to apply:

A full outline of the proposal request, the instructions for responding and evaluation criteria are available as part of the tender opportunity on our procurement portal.

This opportunity can be found on In-Tend under the reference number BC/02164.

  • Deadline for clarification questions:  Sunday 21 November 2021 (23.59 GMT)
  • British Council to respond to clarification questions: Tuesday 23 November 2021 (23:59 GMT)
  • Deadline for submission of Proposals by potential suppliers: Sunday 5 December 2021 (23:59 GMT)
  • Final Decision:  Wednesday 15 December 2021
  • Inception meeting and Contract start date:  Monday 20 December 2021
  • Project completion deadline:  Thursday 31 March 2022