International ICT policy frameworks: A multi-country case study of success in interactivity, mobility, convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and globalization

Authors


Abstract

Various countries have developed broad ICT policy frameworks that focus on enabling the knowledge economy through improving diffusion mechanisms and enhancing uptake conditions. In many cases these policies have failed to promote a forward-looking information society or deliver anticipated economic growth and social development (Mui and Chun, 2004). However, Finland and Singapore, classified by the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook as advanced economies (CIA, 2008), have shown exceptional leadership in developing and executing robust ICT policy frameworks that have effectively supported their successful transformations to high-growth knowledge economies, thereby promoting prosperity, economic growth, and community cohesion within these regions. This study aims to analyze the unique characteristics of Finland and Singapore's national ICT policy frameworks that have contributed to their interactivity, mobility, convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and globalization. As it does so, it will identify several critical success factors that have shaped progress in these settings. Identification of these success factors will help policy makers and IT practitioners as they devise meaningful policies.

Introduction

The past several centuries have witnessed several fundamental transitions that have radically impacted and revolutionized social, political and cultural milieux. The present epoch is characterized by a transition that corresponds to a profound shift in the information paradigm -the transformation of the global economy into the knowledge economy. The resulting generational, economic and socio-cultural outcomes of this transformation continue to have a decisive impact on people, governments and national economies. Knowledge and information are economic production factors with compounding rather than diminishing returns (Maddison, 1982). Consequently, the production, distribution, and use of new knowledge and information are major contributors to economic efficiency, social welfare and sustainable growth (Daly and Cobb, 1989). Economies competing at the global frontier are characterized by well-developed electronic infrastructures which include robust information infrastructures, capabilities-focused information and communication technology (ICT) policies, and an institutional environment that encourages technology innovation and diffusion (Jorgensen et al, 2003). To this end, Toffler (2006) argues that “The electronic infrastructure of advanced economies will have six distinct features. These keys to the future are: interactivity, mobility, convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and globalization. When combined, these six principles point to a total transformation of a nation's economy and its people. “ He then contends that it is essential for

national policy makers to craft policies that effectively promote and harness these six features so that economic growth and the public good can both be supported.

Problem Statement

Many countries have developed broad ICT policy frameworks that focus on enabling the knowledge economy through improving diffusion mechanisms and enhancing uptake conditions. In many cases these policies have failed to promote a forward-looking information society or deliver anticipated economic growth and social development (Mui and Chun, 2004). However, Finland and Singapore, classified by the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook as advanced economies (CIA, 2008), have shown exceptional leadership in developing and executing robust ICT policy frameworks that have effectively supported their successful transformations to high-growth knowledge economies, thereby promoting prosperity, economic growth, and community cohesion within these regions.

Purpose of Study

This study aims to analyze the unique characteristics of Finland and Singapore's national ICT policy frameworks that have contributed to their interactivity, mobility, convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and globalization. As it does so, it will identify several critical success factors that have shaped progress in these settings. Identification of these success factors will help policy makers and IT practitioners as they devise meaningful policies.

Methodology

Case studies of the ICT policy frameworks of Singapore and Finland will be conducted. The case studies will employ a multi-case study methodology (Yin, 1994) which will include: (1) the use of multiple sources of data; (2) creation of a case study database; and (3) maintenance of a chain of evidence. Each case study will include document review and content analysis, statistical analysis of economic and performance data (e.g., GNP, per capita income, literacy rate), and teleconference interviews with key informants and officials in the respective countries.

The Policy Implementation Process model proposed by Van Meter and Van Horn (2000) will be employed to design the multi-case studies, as well as provide a framework for evaluation of the substance of the policies, institutional mechanism and procedures, the politico-cultural context and the enforcement activities. The model posits six variables that shape the linkage between policy and performance. This approach was selected because the theoretical framework guiding its construction was based on three very pertinent bodies of literature: 1) organizational theory (covering innovation and control); (2) the impact of public policy; and (3) selected studies of intergovernmental relationships. The model will be supplemented by the Diffusion of Innovation Theory (Rogers, 1995). Rogers developed a classification scheme for the study of consequences, which are: (1) desirable versus undesirable, (2) direct versus indirect, and (3) anticipated versus unanticipated. This taxonomy will specifically inform the category of research analyzing the changes in the social system as a result of innovative ICT policy adoption.

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