Analysis of Information and Communications Technology Adoption between Small Businesses in China and the United States

ABSTRACT: This paper reports on two case studies, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) adoption among small businesses conducted in both United States and China. One small business from Nebraska (United States of America) and one small business from Sichuan (China) were chosen for comparison. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a comparative case study based on the ICT adoption among small businesses in China and the United States. This paper will: (i) build an understanding of small business ICT in both areas, (ii) explore the relationship between the ICT development in less cutting-edge areas of China and the United States. The result shows that small business in the United States use more advanced ICT than China due to several factors. This study paves the way for the future comparisons to be conducted between California and Zhejiang. Also, this study contributes to and extends the understanding of how information is the driving force behind economic growth in both developing and developed countries.

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Economic growth, ICT programs, small business

As the global digital divide narrows, who is being left behind?

ABSTRACT: There is a sense that information and communications technologies (ICT) have the potential to give people the freedom they need to lead the lives they value. Papers published in this journal consider how ICTs are the means that enable people to achieve their ends of better livelihoods. This line of research builds upon the work of Amartya Sen’s (1999) book entitled Development as Freedom, where development is seen as the process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. In particular, Andersson, Gro¨nlund and Wicander’s Special Issue in this journal (2012) illustrates how development can be seen as freedom when the capabilities by which people are able to achieve their ends are expanded through the use of ICTs. If people have the freedom to achieve the aims they value, then they will be able to lead better lives through their use of ICTs. The outcome of such better livelihoods can be seen in terms of human, social and economic development. The papers in this issue continue to build upon this discovery by considering the role of ICTs in enabling development as freedom. It discusses how the Internet may or may not support freedoms to achieve better livelihoods and delves deeper into the challenges faced by people whose lives are changed for better or for worse by their use of ICTs

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, International Telecommunications Union, Civic engagement, Global market

Assessment of the social factors in information and communication technology access and use

ABSTRACT: There is evidence to suggest that use of information and communication technology (ICT) can play an important role in the growth of small businesses and their communities, countries, and regions. In this sense, ICT can be employed to bring about increased competitiveness if it enables businesses to create new jobs and increase productivity and sales through access to new markets and administrative efficiencies. These outcomes can be achieved through measurable improvements in the lives of people living with limited resources to sustain themselves. It is often the access to ICTs that enables broader development objectives to be realized. In particular, social development objectives, which concern the provision of services such as education and healthcare, can be realized through judicious application of ICTs. It is often the ways in which ICTs are used that can potentially enable people to lead better lives. However, these gains are not always realized, nor are they within the reach of those who need them the most. The papers in this issue recognize an important fact: ICT implementations are influenced by social processes that determine the outcomes and often have political ramifications. Although diverse in their methods and analyses, these papers all provide unique insight into well known yet not always well understood social factors in ICT access and use.

Keywords: Microfinance Sector, E-Commerce, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, International Telecommunications Union, social capital

Creating a Better World with Information and Communication Technologies: Health Equity

ABSTRACT: When news broke on 23rd July 2014, that a case of the deadly virus Ebola had been confirmed in Lagos, home to about 21 million people and a major transportation hub, the World held its breath. If not contained, this virus could spread quickly killing a multitude of people around the World. By 15th October, cases of Ebola had been recorded around the World: Liberia reported 4249 cases with 2458 deaths, Sierra Leone reported 3252 cases with 1183 deaths, Guinea 1472 cases with 843 deaths, Nigeria reported 20 cases with 8 deaths, the USA reported 3 cases and 1 death, Spain and Senegal reported 1 case with no deaths (Qureshi et al, 2015).

Keywords: Health equity, Information and Communication Technologies, Mobile signals, Equitable healthcare, social media

Discovering development from information technologies: does open access to technology improve the lives of people?

ABSTRACT: One of the most compelling problems facing society is how to understand the effects of Information Technology and that illusive “Communication” technology in the more contemporary term Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on the lives of people – especially those living in marginalized circumstances. The ability to communicate through the use of information technologies has enabled access to skill, expertise and knowledge by people who are able to use these resources to improve their lives. This ability is also manifest in technologies, such as cell phones and internet chat rooms that allow innovative uses of the technology to bring about measureable improvements in the lives of people. Discovering these improvements in the lives of people who use these technologies to come out of poverty or deprivations, is the subject of the study of how Information Technology may enable Development. The effects of ICTs on Development can be studied to assess how economic growth, namely income generation and job creation may take place; how social development outcomes, such as the effects of technology on healthcare, government and education may be improved; and how human development outcomes of empowerment, participation in civic life and the achievement of individual freedoms may be enabled through access and use of information technology. These are just some of the many ways in which ICTs have been shown to bring about improvements in the lives of people. Researchers in the Information Technology for Development field have shown that there is a link between the adoption of ICTs by people in a region and an increase in incomes of people in that region (Baliamoune-Lutz, 2003; Bollou and Ngwenyama, 2008; Cecchini and Scott, 2003; Kottemann and Boyer-Wright, 2009; Kosempel, 2007).

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Telecenters, Internet chat rooms, payment systems, e-government

In the Age of Popular Uprisings, what is the Role of Public Access Computing and Social Media on Development?

ABSTRACT: Civic engagement has long been touted as a key to enabling people to participate in their collective destiny and take control of their collective good. Recent events in Egypt have shown us that the will of the people is powerful, even though people's opinions, preferences, and political affiliations diverge. The role of social media in enabling coalitions to form, congregate in large numbers, and overthrow the governments they oppose appears to have become prominent. It appears that with these uprisings, social media are transforming the ways in which people choose to take control of their collective lives, that of their communities and societies. Social media and public access to the Internet serve as platforms supporting the creation of social coalitions and civic engagement, for better or for worse, bring about new ways people can quest for better livelihoods. The concept of development is emerging with these changes from being primarily supported through institutions to one in which these very institutions are part of the change that could lead to their destruction. For example, the heavy-handed nature of a military government's interventions could cause greater upheaval that in turn limits its legitimacy and remit for action unless they are aligned with the will of their people. While at the same time, government support, community acceptance, and valuable social activity in the relevant social groups are important in the creation of institutions of development supported by information and communication technologies (ICTs) as evidenced in studies reported by Madon, Reinhard, Roode, and Walsham (2009).

Keywords: Human development, Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare, ICT-enabled service, social capital

Information technology for development in expanding capabilities

ABSTRACT: The concept of development continues to evolve as information and communication technologies (ICTs) are applied in innovative ways to support the needs of people living with very limited resources. While it appears that the implementation of ICT infrastructures in underserved communities and in less developed countries (LDCs) may not always lead to the benefits expected in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness, there appear to be benefits in using ICTs to support the human capabilities. In their call for a more “strategic developmental focus” Thompson and Walsham (2010) suggest that the conception, development, implementation, and use of ICT functions as an explicit vehicle for furthering developmental aims. By this they mean that ICTs in themselves cannot be seen as an end to development efforts, but more as enabling sets of social behaviors. At the same time development agencies appear to view ICTs as an end to their efforts to alleviate poverty, provide healthcare and better government services. Brown and Grant (2010) state that although the extent to which the benefits of ICTs can be realized remains to be seen, it is this perceived capacity to provide broad, far-reaching and even revolutionary, socio-economic change that has brought ICT to the center of the development discourse. They identify a duality between research in ICT for development and ICT in developing countries in which contributions to development from researching ICTs in developing contexts are not often forthcoming. They argue that both these streams of research are being carried out in parallel with little or no overlap with each other (Brown & Grant, 2010).

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare, strategic developmental focus, information services, e-government initiatives, operational and financial sustainability, mobile libraries

Networks of change, shifting power from institutions to people: how are innovations in the use of information and communication technology transforming development?

ABSTRACT: In 2006, Professor Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, for their pioneering work in fighting global poverty by providing financial services for the poor. Grameen Bank, started by Professor Yunus in 1976, is credited with pioneering microcredit banking when he gave a loan of $27 to 43 poor women. Since then, Grameen Bank has helped more than 8.3 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women (Grameen Foundation, 2013). The following year, Forbes magazine reported that there were about 12,000 micro-finance institutions in the world with some of the big banks, government and private foundations getting into the game (Swibel, 2007). When receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, Professor Yunus was asked by a reporter: “what is your secret to helping people out of poverty?”

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Microcredit banking, Micro-businesses, Mobile cellphones, Telecenters, Electronic telecommunications

Overcoming Technological Determinism in Understanding the Digital Divide: Where Do We Go From Here?

ABSTRACT: The plethora of research on the digital divide has illustrated that in essence the gap between digital “haves” and “have-nots” is a complex phenomenon with local and global characteristics (Barzilai-Nahon, 2006; van Dijk, 2006; Servon, 2008; Warschauer, 2003 are some sources). It appears that the digital divides may not be associated with economic and social well-being as hoped for by governments and international agencies. A study by the Economist (2011) found that Africa is now one of the world's fastest-growing regions with 6 of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Uganda's GDP growth rate, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, has fluctuated between 6.6% in 2011, 3.4% in 2012, around 6% in 2013 and 6.9% in the first quarter of 2014 (World Bank World Development Indicators, 2014. Yet the digital divides remain active in Uganda, with 45.9% of the population with mobile cellular subscriptions and 14.7% using the internet (International Telecommunications Union, 2012). This is largely due to deep divides between those who have resources, skills and education to reap the benefits of the information technologies and those who do not (May, Waema, & Bjastad, 2014; Servon, 2008; Warschauer, 2003). Given equal access to the technology, digital literacy sets apart those who are able to reap the benefits of the technology and those who are not. The divide between digital literacy exacerbates the inequalities caused by the information technologies, according to van Dijk (2006). He suggests that not only are the relative differences between social categories, that were already unequal in terms of “old” types of resources and capital, are amplified by the use of digital media, but the control of positions in an increasingly global, complex society and the possession of information and strategic skills to acquire and maintain these positions is increasingly unequally divided. In this way, he adds that digital media usage contributes to new types of absolute and relative inequality that add to or reinforce existing inequalities (van Dijk, 2006, p. 231).

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Digital divide, International Telecommunications Union, Digital literacy, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Perspectives on development: why does studying information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) matter?

ABSTRACT: The concept of development has been used by scholars and practitioners to demonstrate changes for the better in the lives of individuals, communities, nations and regions. Historically, the practice of development has been associated with interventions and categorizations that have had the opposite effect in countries and regions deemed to be developing. Current notions of development predicated on respect for individual rights, human freedoms, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and education have been more successful in achieving improvements in the lives of people. Yet, historic notions of development persist and continue to drive failing projects. This editorial explores the historical notions of development that persist to this day and offers a view of contemporary perspectives on development. As a growing set of development interventions and papers in this issue involve Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the question of why Information and Communication Technology for Development matters? is addressed in the light of development perspectives.

Keywords: Human capital, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, World Economic Forum, social capital, Gender Development Index, Communication Technology for Development

Theory to Inform Practice to Build Theory: Are Emerging Economies in a Cyclical Relationship with their Information and Communication Technologies?

ABSTRACT: Five years ago, the global economy was in the midst of a recession thought to be one of the deepest in recent history. The recession left high unemployment rates, shrinking middle classes and rising inequalities in many countries of the Western world accustomed to dominating the world economy. At the same time, The Economist reported that China, India and Indonesia were among the few economies in the world that continued to expand throughout the global downturn. Even though the smaller, more open Asian economies were badly hit, between September and March the real GDP fell by an average annualized rate of 13% in Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, the countries' second-quarter GDP figures showed a bounce. Comparing the second quarter with the first at an annualized rate, China's GDP grew by 15%, South Korea's by almost 10%, Singapore's soared by 21% and Indonesia's managed a respectable 5% (The Economist, 2009).

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Global economy, Economic growth, Telecenter facilities, Mobile payments

What is the role of mobile phones in bringing about growth?

ABSTRACT: Mobile phones have been touted as one of the most transformative technologies to have brought about development by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Tom Standage, Digital Editor of The Economist magazine, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and others. Innovations especially in mobile banking such as Kenya’s M-Pesa system have enabled banking and payment services to those who would otherwise remain without banking services, are seen as some of the ways in which Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are enabling development. Morawczynski and Pickens (2009) show through their ethnographic study, how the lives of people are being transformed through their use of the M-Pesa mobile banking services. For better or for worse, these technologies are here to stay. The challenge faced when studying how ICTs bring about development is in understanding how does this relationship actually take place? For example, fishermen in Kerala, India, who are able to use mobile phones to search for the best market prices for their produce, see an increase in their incomes by 8%. Since the quantity of fish brought to the market increases with the rise in farmer’s income, consumer prices fall by 4% according to the Harvard economist Robert Jensen (2007). Does this mean that there could be a bi-directional relationship between ICTs and development? In that there could be a direct link between mobile phone coverage and the ability of farmers and businesses people to increase their incomes.

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, International Telecommunications Union, Mobile phones, Mobile banking, Gross Domestic Product