Measuring the Impact of China’s Digital Heritage: Developing Multidimensional Impact Indicators for Digital Museum Resources

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research investigates how to best assess the impact of China’s digital heritage and focuses on digital museum resources. It is motivated by the need for tools to help governing bodies and heritage organisations assess the impact of digital heritage resources. The research sits at the intersection of Chinese cultural heritage, digital heritage, and impact assessment (IA) studies, which forms the theoretical framework of the thesis. Informed by the Balanced Value Impact (BVI) Model, this thesis addresses the following questions:

1. How do Western heritage discourses and Chinese culture shape ‘cultural heritage’ and the museum digital ecosystem in modern China?
2. Which indicators demonstrate the multidimensional impacts of digital museum resources in China? How should the BVI Model be adapted to fit the Chinese cultural landscape?
3. How do different stakeholders perceive these impact indicators? What are the implications for impact indicator development and application?

This research applies a mixed-method approach, combining desk research, survey, and interview with both public audiences and museum professionals. The research findings identify 18 impact indicators, covering economic, social, innovation and operational dimensions. Notably, the perceived usefulness and importance of different impact indicators vary among and between public participants and museum professionals. The study finds the BVI Model helpful in guiding the indicator development process, particularly in laying a solid foundation to inform decision-making. The Strategic Perspectives and Value Lenses provide a structure to organise various indicators and keep them focused on the impact objectives. However, the findings also suggest that the Value Lenses are merely signifiers; their signified meanings change with cultural contexts and should be examined when the Model is applied in a different cultural setting.

This research addresses the absence of digital resource IA in China’s heritage sector. It contributes to the field of IA for digital heritage within and beyond the Chinese context by challenging the current target-setting culture in performance evaluation. Moreover, the research ratifies the utility of the BVI Model while modifying it to fit China’s unique cultural setting. This thesis as a whole demonstrates the value of using multidimensional impact indicators for evidence-based decision-making and better museum practices in the digital domain.
Date of Award1 Jan 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSimon Tanner (Supervisor) & Elisa Oreglia (Supervisor)

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