Social and economic perspectives on the role of information and communication technology for development

ABSTRACT: Development is an improvement in the lives of people and their communities. When investigating the effects of information technology on development, we study the ways in which technologies that enable information to be communicated improve the lives of people in their communities, regions, countries, or even groups of countries. This can be studied by investigating the social impacts on development of the technologies. The social concept of development suggests that people participate in improving their circumstances through the development of healthcare, education, environment, and community services (Apthorpe, 1999; Arce, 2003; Midgley, 2003). Social development considers improvements in the lives of people through programs in healthcare, education, and the environment that are often implemented by governments. When governments make use of information and communication technologies to improve their services, they might also contribute to social development. Some authors suggest that governments make policy based on discourse that has recourse to neat, easily available and powerfully constructed sets of institutional, legislative, and financial resources (Apthorpe, 1999; Midgley, 2003). These policies are implemented to bring about social development. Social development activities are designed to raise living standards, increase local participation in development, and address the needs of vulnerable and oppressed groups (Midgley, 2003). Economic development is a means of studying development that considers improvements in the lives of people through income generation, job creation, and other factors such as trade and migration. Theories of economic development try to predict the choices people make in order to improve the quality of their lives and offer tools that policy makers can use to balance the cyclical changes in economies. Development theorists such as Schumpeter (2002) offer empirical evidence of how economies can benefit from innovation, education, and foreign investments. The papers in this issue offer compelling contributions to both social and economic development and into the role of information and communication technology in bringing this about.

Keywords: Healthcare, Economic Prosperity, Academic Libraries, Human Resource Development, Social development