Last May 14th 2009 I imparted a seminar entitled Measuring digital development for policy-making: Models, stages, characteristics and causes. The role of the government in the framework of the Internet, Law and Political science research seminar series that take place at the School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain)
Though I had previously presented part of my phd research in public, this is officially the first time that I present final results.
The presentation only shows a brief introduction to Part II (quantitative analysis) and partial highlights from Part III (quantitative/statistical analysis), which makes most slides quite cryptic without a speaker (more cryptic, I mean).
Put short — very short —, after defining a conceptual framework (the 360º digital framework) the research draws 4 stages of digital development (after cluster analysis), the three of which are but different levels of a similar digital development path, and the fourth of them a completely different digital development model: leapfroggers.
These stages of digital development are characterized (a profile for each of them is described), and some determinants (causes) for this digital development (or underdevelopment) are calculated by means of logistic regressions.
The research shows the huge importance of governments in framing and fostering digital development, which is more important and should be more direct the less digitally developed is a specific economy.
It is important to note that government action should be, firstly, focused in framing and give incentives to the real economy, entrepreneurship and innovation; and secondly, to foster the digital economy by means of providing it with an appropriate policy and regulatory framework but also by means of “pull” strategies.
Thus said, the findings show that digital development is compatible with both liberal and Keynesian policies, and that supply-side policies and direct intervention are only worth applying below a minimum threshold of infrastructures. After some infrastructure is installed, policies should especially focus to trigger demand (not to increase the aggregate demand, which is a completely different thing).
This goes against the belief that the government should subsidise computers or content; but it also goes against the belief that the government should just care for the regulatory framework: public policies are a determinant of digital development.
What policies then? Fostering digital services, both private supplied as public e-services, as these services will pull de demand more effectively than other kind of policies.
- Basic development (income, health, education, equality) accompanies any other kind of digital development, which means that it has to be addressed first hand and, indeed, be the target itself where to apply the benefits of digital development.
- Leapfroggers show that another model from the previous one is possible. It is my concern, nevertheless, how a model based in a powerful ICT Sector aimed towards international trade will impact the domestic economy beyond an eminently direct level. In other words, policies fostering a domestic digital development will have both direct and indirect multiplier effects, the latter being the most powerful ones and, maybe, absent in a leapfrogger model.
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