nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2022‒02‒14
eleven papers chosen by
Marek Giebel
Universität Dortmund

  1. Broadband and Productivity: Structural Estimates for Germany By Tomaso Duso; Mattia Nardotto; Alexander Schiersch
  2. Drivers and effects of digitalisation on energy demand in low carbon scenarios By Noam Bergman; Tim Foxon
  3. Competitors’ Reactions to Big Tech Acquisitions: Evidence from Mobile Apps By Pauline Affeldt; Reinhold Kesler
  4. Positioning firms along the capabilities ladder By Coad, Alex; Mathew, Nanditha; Pugliese, Emanuele
  5. Women's mobile phone access and use: A snapshot of six states in India By Sonne, Lina
  6. Streams of digital data and competitive advantage: The mediation effects of process efficiency and product effectiveness By E. Raguseo; Pigni, F.; Claudio Vitari
  7. Intelligent modeling of e-Government initiatives in Greece By Diomidis Spinellis; Athanasia Pouloudi; George Xirogiannis; Evmorfia Makantasi
  8. Some Tactical Aspects of Computer Search By Nicoleta-Elena Heghes; Nelu Nita
  9. Political polarization and the impact of internet and social media use in Brazil By Giuberti Coutinho, Lorena
  10. Voice assistants as gatekeepers for consumption? How information intermediaries shape competition By Noskova, Victoriia
  11. Video-based behavioral change communication to change consumption patterns: Experimental evidence from urban Ethiopia By Abate, Gashaw Tadesse; Baye, Kaleab; de Brauw, Alan; Hirvonen, Kalle; Wolle, Abdulazize

  1. By: Tomaso Duso; Mattia Nardotto; Alexander Schiersch
    Abstract: We study the impact of broadband availability on firms’ total factor productivity (TFP) using German firm-level data between 2010 and 2015. We adopt a control function approach to causally identify and separately estimate productivity for 46 two-digit manufacturing and service sectors. Over the sample period, broadband availability, measured by 16 Mbps transmission rates, more than doubled in German municipalities. While this increased broadband availability has almost no effect on firms’ productivity in manufacturing, it significantly increases TFP in most service sectors. Yet, the size of the effect is heterogenous across industries.
    Keywords: broadband internet, productivity, firm-level data
    JEL: D24 D22 J24 O14 O22 O33
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Noam Bergman (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School, University of Sussex); Tim Foxon (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: The world is currently facing two socio-technical transitions: shifting to a low-carbon society, and a digital revolution. Despite some claims to the contrary, evidence suggests that spread and adoption of ICT does not automatically lead to reduction in energy demand, if this stimulates new energy-using practices or wider economic growth. Despite this policy challenge, the two transitions are often considered separately. This study examines potential drivers of reductions or increases in energy demand due to digitalisation identified in recent leading global and UK net zero transitions scenarios. These include direct effects, indirect and rebound effects relating to home energy use and transport, and effects on economic growth. The scenarios are first analysed in relation to how they are situated in relation to different framing assumptions: (1) the relative focus on decarbonising energy supply or managing energy demand; (2) a focus on green growth or shifting to a focus on wellbeing (or even degrowth); (3) the extent to which they assume dominant business models led by large ICT firms, or alternative business models which empower communities and users; and (4) the extent to which they envisage key roles for ICT in relation to automation for optimising energy supply and demand or for empowering agency of users. Specific direct, indirect and economic growth effects of digitalisation on energy demand are then identified, which reflect these and other projections in the scenarios. These imply that the future pathways adopted for digitalisation will have a significant impact on future energy demand and hence on the feasibility and acceptability of achieving net zero goals. This suggests opportunities for further research and improving policy interactions between these two transitions, and stimulating greater public debate on the different framings for an ICT-driven low carbon transition.
    Keywords: digital, energy demand, low carbon targets, long-term scenarios
    Date: 2021–12
  3. By: Pauline Affeldt; Reinhold Kesler
    Abstract: Since 2010, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft (GAFAM) have acquired more than 400 companies. Competition authorities did not scrutinize most of these transactions and blocked none. This raised concerns that GAFAM acquisitions target potential competitors yet fly under the radar of current merger control due to the features of the digital economy. We empirically study the competitive effects of big tech acquisitions on competitors in a relevant online market. We identify acquisitions by GAFAM involving apps from 2015 to 2019, matching these to a comprehensive database covering apps available in the Google Play Store. We find that competing apps tend to innovate less following an acquisition by GAFAM, while there seems to be no impact on prices and privacy-sensitive permissions of competing apps. Additionally, we find evidence that affected developers reallocate innovation efforts to unaffected apps and that affected markets experience less entry post-acquisition.
    Keywords: Mergers and acquisitions, digital markets, GAFAM, apps, innovation, privacy, event study
    JEL: K21 L41 L86 G34
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Coad, Alex (Waseda Business School); Mathew, Nanditha (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University); Pugliese, Emanuele (European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC))
    Abstract: We develop and apply a novel methodology for quantifying the capability development of firms, and putting these capabilities (and hence also the firms) in a hierarchy, that we refer to as their position on the capabilities ladder. Our nestedness algorithm, inspired by biology and network science, defines a capability as complex if it is performed by only a few firms at the upper rungs of the ladder. We analyze balance sheet and innovation data of almost 40,000 Indian firms for the time period 1988-2015, and observe significant nestedness. Lower rungs of the capabilities ladder correspond to basic managerial and production capabilities. Mid-level rungs correspond to internationalization and acquiring absorptive capacity. Higher level rungs are more related to M&A and innovation. ICT capabilities have become more fundamental lower-level rungs on the capabilities ladder in recent years. We find that capability ranking can explain future growth patterns and survival probability of firms, summing up in one number their future potential trajectories.
    Keywords: Capabilities, Competences, Complexity, Balance sheet data, Resources
    JEL: L2 D2 O12
    Date: 2021–08–13
  5. By: Sonne, Lina (O.P. Jindal Global University, India and UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: This paper provides a snapshot of the way digitisation through mobile phones plays out among women in India. It is based on a review of literature, semi-structured interviews with 15 key stakeholders and 60 interviews with low-income women end-users across urban and rural locations in six states. The paper offers a snapshot of what women's access to, and use of phones looks like today in India. The interviews point to increased access to mobile phones with advanced features, with even women reporting to use basic phones being able to use applications such as WhatsApp. Our findings suggest that nearly all women have smartphones, have their own phone (rather than shared) and have a new phone (as opposed to a hand-me-down). Nevertheless, women remain constrained in the location and the type of use. Women primarily use the phone at home to avoid raising suspicion or gossip. A majority of respondents reported calling and receiving calls on a daily or weekly basis. When it came to messaging services, WhatsApp had overtaken conventional SMS. Women additionally use the phone for entertainment, for seeking out information, and for mobile payments. Very few women said their phones were monitored. Some respondents noted that they have serious concerns about the risk of harassment online, primarily through random calls. While women are able to operate their phones for every-day purposes, they struggle with adequate digital literacy when it comes to advanced features. There was little difference in the way women use their phones across rural-urban locations and across the six states.
    Keywords: Gender and technology, Inclusive digitisation, Mobile phone access, Digital economy, Digital society
    JEL: O33 O35 O17
    Date: 2021–08–30
  6. By: E. Raguseo (DIGEP - Department of Management and Production Engineering [Politecnico di Torino] - Polito - Politecnico di Torino = Polytechnic of Turin); Pigni, F. (Grenoble Ecole de Management); Claudio Vitari (CERGAM - Centre d'Études et de Recherche en Gestion d'Aix-Marseille - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - UTLN - Université de Toulon, AMU ECO - Aix-Marseille Université - Faculté d'économie et de gestion - AMU - Aix Marseille Université)
    Abstract: Firms can achieve a competitive advantage by leveraging real-time Digital Data Streams (DDSs). The ability to profit from DDSs is emerging as a critical competency for firms and a novel area for Information Technology (IT) investments. We examine the relationship between DDS readiness and competitive advantage by studying the mediation effect of product effectiveness and process efficiency. The research model is tested with data obtained from 302 companies, and the results confirm the existence of the mediation effects. Interestingly, we confirm that competitive advantage is more significantly impacted by IT investments affecting product effectiveness than those affecting process efficiency
    Keywords: Streams of big data,process efficiency,product effectiveness,competitive advantage
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Diomidis Spinellis; Athanasia Pouloudi; George Xirogiannis; Evmorfia Makantasi
    Abstract: Over the last two years Greece has employed agile ICT solutions to reduce the administrative burden in front-office G2B transactions. This research supplements historic analysis with fuzzy cognitive maps to offer a multi-dimensional coupling of eGovernment initiatives with digital maturity assessment capabilities and a strategy alignment evaluation framework. This “intelligent x-ray” confirms that front-office technology is important in reducing administrative burden. The digital bypass of bureaucracy seems to be an effective start for Greece. However, this strategy can only serve as a short-term tactical choice. The “intelligent x-ray” provides executivelevel quantification and traceable reasoning to show that excessive emphasis on front- office technology will soon fail to support a strong eGovernment maturity. Organizational efficiency, interoperability, regulatory simplifications, and change management must also act as important objectives. Only then will ICT deliver its full potential, and the eGovernment maturity will improve significantly even with moderate ICT investments.
    Keywords: fuzzy cognitive maps, eGovernment strategy, digital maturity, evidencebased policy
    Date: 2022–02
  8. By: Nicoleta-Elena Heghes (Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University of Bucharest, Romania); Nelu Nita (George Bacovia University of Bacău, Romania)
    Abstract: Due to the process of globalization in general, and computer networks in particular, as a result of the continuous development of information and communication technology, in addition to the undeniable progress of society, new forms of crime specific to cybercrime have emerged and are spreading. It is also one of the greatest threats to humanity of all time. Computer search is an activity different from any other evidentiary procedure, requiring specific rules to take into account its nature. The computer search can be ordered during the criminal investigation by conclusion by the judge of rights and freedoms, and during the trial by the Court.
    Keywords: computer systems, cybercrime, computer search warrant, computer search, the tactic of conducting the computer search
    Date: 2021–08
  9. By: Giuberti Coutinho, Lorena (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht)
    Abstract: Influential scholars have pointed to the Internet and social media as a reason for the recent political divide in many countries. Greater exposure to imbalanced information in these environments would reinforce previous political positions leading voters to develop more extreme positions or greater animosity towards candidates of the opposing political group, a phenomenon known as affective polarization. This study investigates the impact of Internet and social media use on Brazil's recent affective polarization, exploring the historical peculiarities in the layout of pre-existing infrastructure that causes exogenous variation in Internet and social media usage. There is no empirical evidence that access to this new media environment explains affective polarization within the population under this study. Findings are consistent with the strand of literature suggesting that the recent phenomena of political polarization in some countries cannot be attributed to Internet and social media use
    Keywords: political polarization, broadband internet, Brazil
    JEL: D12 D72 L82 L86
    Date: 2021–08–30
  10. By: Noskova, Victoriia
    Abstract: In December 2020, new regulation of digital markets was proposed by European Commission. It specifically addresses main concerns raised by business behavior of operators of core services in their gatekeeping positions. However, voice assistants (or digital personal assistants, DPAs, e.g. Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant) are not included into this regulation. In contrast, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of European Parliament suggested to include them. This paper argues that (i) voice assistants as gatekeepers for consumption should be listed among core services, (ii) some Digital Market Act's obligations need to be adopted to fit specifics of voice assistants, (iii) two relevant dimensions of power should be included into rebuttable presumptions used for competition policy and regulation: market power on voice assistants' market and ecosystem of related markets (cross-market integration criterion), (iv) growth of new gatekeepers should be prevented, among other means by stricter merger control.
    Keywords: Voice Assistants,Gatekeepers,Digital Market Act,Digital Personal Assistants,Virtual Assistants,Competition in Digital Markets,Competitive Bottleneck,Information Intermediaries,Platform Competition,Smart Speakers,Siri,Alexa,Google Assistant
    JEL: K21 L1 L4 L86 O33 D4
    Date: 2021
  11. By: Abate, Gashaw Tadesse; Baye, Kaleab; de Brauw, Alan; Hirvonen, Kalle; Wolle, Abdulazize
    Abstract: Poor diet quality has been widely identified as a primary reason for malnutrition and the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables contributes to poor diet quality, and one factor leading to low fruit and vegetable consumption is limited consumer awareness of the health and nutrition benefits of consumption. In this study, we experimentally assess a method of increasing consumer awareness, specifically, through showing households two different versions of a video embedded with messages about increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. The first video included just the basic recommended consumption behavior messages, while the second video also explained why and how fruit and vegetable consumption could improve health and nutrition outcomes. Even four months after viewing the video, average household consumption of fruits and vegetables increased by about 10 percent in both treatment groups relative to the control group, both in kilocalorie and consumption expenditure terms. The videos were developed to eventually show on national TV, suggesting that embedding dietary BCC messages in popular media can have positive impacts on diet quality at scale.
    Keywords: ETHIOPIA; EAST AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; AFRICA; diet; fruit; vegetables; urban areas; malnutrition; consumer education; nutrition education; videos; behavior change communication; diet quality
    Date: 2021

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