Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


According to widely publicised and influential studies, information and communication technologies (ICTs) were a major source of labour productivity growth during the 1990s in many developed countries. The diffusion of ICTs has been argued to permanently change the rate of sustainable economic growth, and they have frequently been described as core technologies of the emerging knowledge-based economy.
This paper assesses existing research on the productivity impacts of ICT, and suggests some new starting points for ICT policy development. Instead of being an exhaustive literature review, it tries to clarify and evaluate key concepts and assumptions that underlie current economic knowledge on the impacts of ICT.
Although the economic frameworks discussed in this paper are only partially able to grasp the significance of ICTs, these technologies are transforming the foundations of economy and society. The potential impact of ICTs for social and economic development can be analysed using Amartya Sen's capability-based model of economic development. The capability-based model allows us to ask what types of technical change and economic growth can reasonably be called development. In particular, in this framework we can ask how ICTs can provide functionality that augments and enhances capabilities that are fundamental for economic development. The capability-based model also allows us to connect key political concepts such as freedoms, rights, equality, and democracy to the more traditional considerations of economic growth.

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