Title: Impact of information and communications technologies on government innovation policy: an international comparison

Authors: Arnoud De Meyer, Chelvin Loh

Addresses: INSEAD Asia Campus, 1 Ayer Rajah Avenue, 138676, Singapore. ' International Enterprise Singapore, 230 Victoria Street #09-00, Bugis Junction Office Tower, 188024, Singapore

Abstract: With the rapid development of information and communications technologies (ICT), the greatest challenge to policy makers today is whether it will have a fundamental and structural impact on the way economies function and its sustainability on people|s standard of living. Statistics showed that the ||Solow|s productivity paradox||, which saw how productivity growth in major industrialised countries declined in the 1970s and 1980s despite phenomenal growth in technological improvements, has been overthrown by bursting rates of productivity growth since the mid-1990s. Besides establishing evidence of a growth trend, studies also conclude that potential productivity gains from the use of ICT will come from a combination of organisational changes that ICT brings about, a skilled workforce in ICT, and technology R&D spending. Therefore, although productivity gains will extend into the future, the rate at which these gains can be fully realised depends on the speed at which businesses and citizens can embrace ICT. There is clearly a role for the government in the digital economy, not of an economic regulator as under the traditional S&T policy of ||picking the winners||, but more of a facilitator, enabler, and orchestrator of innovative activities. Public policy in the information society needs to focus not only on preventing the digital divide, but more importantly on stimulating the demand for ICT and encouraging technological innovative activities on a broad scale. This paper looks at three aspects of the innovation policy, namely: innovation in the public sector: e-Government; innovation policy in the private sector: fostering technological innovation; innovation policy in the people sector: building an all-inclusive information society. Recognising that the government has the largest client base and that the public sector can serve as a leveraging platform to demonstrate how ICT can meet needs more efficiently, the development of an e-government can provide a catalytic force by stimulating a demand for ICT and creating a ||market|| for ICT applications. From the ||best practices|| of leading e-governments such as Canada, Singapore, the USA, Norway, Australia, and Ireland, four important aspects of an e-government strategy are identified, namely: the development of a broad e-government vision and the implementation of delivery mechanisms; the progression from mainly one-way and passive informational services to providing interactive, citizen-centric, and integrated online services; building transactional capabilities through Public Key Infrastructure, focusing on the authentication, non-repudiation, confidentiality, and integrity of information flows; and equipping civil servants to become knowledge workers in the knowledge economy. In the private sector, critical ||pulse points|| that will encourage technological innovation on a broad scale are identified, namely developing a financial and technical infrastructure, institutionalising a regulatory framework, developing a skilled workforce in ICT, creating an innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial culture, and forming strategic international alliances, illustrated with ||best practices|| from Singapore, the USA, Israel, Finland, Sweden, and Japan. Finally, recognising that the digital divide can be an unfortunate consequence of the ICT revolution, the paper examines what countries such as the USA, Singapore, Sweden, and Finland have done to create an all-inclusive information society, firstly by transforming non-ICT users to passive ICT-users through increasing their ability to access information, and finally to active ICT-users, where ICT becomes a means of communication and a way of life. Specific regulatory issues thrown up by the information society, such as the delicate balance between privacy protection and the risks of abuse by specific interest groups, will also be examined.

Keywords: all-inclusive information society; e-government; innovation policy; productivity; technological innovation; ICT; information and communications technology.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIEM.2004.004398

International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management, 2004 Vol.2 No.1, pp.1 - 29

Published online: 10 May 2004 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article