|Diffusion of Information Technology - Experience of Industrial Countries and Lessons for Developing Countries (WB, 1995, 230 p.)|
This study reports on the experience of Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan in designing, implementing and adapting information technology diffusion programs over the last decade. The study examines the determinants of effective IT diffusion and analyzes the national IT policy portfolios to draw lessons and trends. In particular, industrial countries have shifted their emphasis since the late 80s away from national champions towards diffusion and aiding the small and medium enterprises to adopt already available information technologies. The study also reviews the experience to draw guidelines for designing IT diffusion programs for maximum impact. Programs should consider technology life cycles, the business needs of potential users, their technological sophistication, and their current exposure to international best practices. Program goals should be realistic, measurable, attainable, and clearly communicated. Programs should be packaged to provide integrated services to differentiated users. Stable program delivery channels are important. Levels of technology and user sophistication should also guide the choice of delivery institutions: universities, private consultants, trade associations, public industrial extension, etc.
The study suggests broad directions for adapting these lessons to the conditions of developing countries. National strategies should address incentives, institutions and capabilities. Access to international know-how is clearly important and various instruments must be explored. Measures should promote institutional learning capabilities and engage business leadership. The strategy should be user oriented. Government agencies can learn to become catalysts for diffusion by working closely with private sector associations. In designing diffusion programs for developing countries, demand analysis, experimentation, monitoring, formal and informal evaluation, and continuous adaptation would be critical. Low-cost diffusion approaches are possible. They should rely on local institutions and networks to speed knowledge transfer. Intangible investments must accompany IT to realize the benefits.
The study concludes by suggesting roles for governments, private sector, and aid agencies to accelerate the benefits of IT diffusion for development.