nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2007‒05‒26
three papers chosen by
Walter Frisch
University Vienna

  1. Technological revolutions and the evolution of industrial structures. Assessing the impact of new technologies upon size, pattern of growth and boundaries of the firms By Giovanni Dosi; Alfonso Gambardella; Marco Grazzi; Luigi Orsenigo
  2. Towards a Quality-Aware Engineering Process for the Development of Web Applications By C. CACHERO; G. POELS; C. CALERO; Y. MARHUENDA
  3. Computing an Optimal Contract in Simple Technologies By Yuval Emek; Michal Feldman

  1. By: Giovanni Dosi; Alfonso Gambardella; Marco Grazzi; Luigi Orsenigo
    Abstract: In this work we discuss the impact of the new ICT techno-economic paradigm upon the vertical and horizontal boundaries of the firm and ask whether the change in the sources of competitive advantage has resulted in changes in the size distribution of firms and also in the degree of concentration of industries. Drawing both on firm-level and national statistical data we assess the evolution of the overall balances between the activities which are integrated within organizations and those which occur through market interactions. While the new paradigm entails ``revolutionary'' changes in the domain of technology, the modification in industrial structures has been somewhat more incremental. Certainly, the vertical and horizontal boundaries of firms have changed and together one is observing a turnover in the club of biggest world firms accounting also for a shift in the relative importance of industrial sectors. Nonetheless, we do not observe an abrupt fading of the Chandlerian multidivisional corporation in favour of smaller less-integrated firms.
    Keywords: New techno-economic paradigm; Organizational change; Vertical integration; Boundaries of the firm; Visible hand.
    Date: 2007–05–14
    Abstract: It is widely recognized that Web Engineering (WE) practices lack an impact on industry. One of the reasons for this fact is that Web applications developed with WE methodologies have not proven a better quality than those developed with creative practices. In this technical report we claim that one way to change such perception is including specific quality management activities as part of the WE process. In order to perform this inclusion in a sensible way, in this technical report we explore principles and achievements that, uncovered in different Web quality lines of research, provide insights into how to deal with quality in each of the different workflows that a typical WE process defines, from requirements to implementation. Also, in order to preserve the (semi-)automatic nature of WE processes, we propose the definition of measurable concepts, measures and decision criteria in a machine-readable way that allows for the automation of the quality evaluation process, thus preserving the MDE nature of WE processes. In this way we are providing the user of a WE methodology with the advantages associated with managing quality from the early stages of development with little extra development costs.
    Keywords: Web Quality assessment, Web Engineering, MDA, Empirical Validation
    Date: 2007–05
  3. By: Yuval Emek; Michal Feldman
    Abstract: We study an economic setting in which a principal motivates a team of strategic agents to exert costly effort toward the success of a joint project. The action taken by each agent is hidden and affects the (binary) outcome of the agent's individual task stochastically. A Boolean function, called technology, maps the individual tasks' outcomes into the outcome of the whole project. The principal induces a Nash equilibrium on the agents' actions through payments that are conditioned on the project's outcome (rather than the agents' actual actions) and the main challenge is that of determining the Nash equilibrium that maximizes the principal's net utility, referred to as the optimal contract. Babaioff, Feldman and Nisan [1] suggest and study a basic combinatorial agency model for this setting. Here, we concentrate mainly on two extreme cases: the AND and OR technologies. Our analysis of the OR technology resolves an open question and disproves a conjecture raised in [1]. In particular, we show that while the AND case admits a polynomial-time algorithm, computing the optimal contract in the OR case is NP-hard. On the positive side, we devise an FPTAS for the OR case, which also sheds some light on optimal contract approximation of general technologies.
    Date: 2007–05

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