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Governing the Networks of the Information Society. Prospects and limits of policy in a complex technical system

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  • Johannes M. Bauer
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    Abstract

    This paper examines the prospects and limits of policies towards information and communications technologies (ICTs). The co-evolution of technological, economic, and political factors that has affected the information network infrastructure during the past three decades has transformed it from a relatively closed to more open system. As a consequence, the degree of complexity of the ICT infrastructure has increased with far-reaching implications for its governance. Paradoxically, policy was better able to control important performance characteristics, such as prices or investment levels, during the past monopoly era. However, the ability to control came at the high price of the inefficiencies associated with monopoly organization. In the present more competitive framework, many feasible policy instruments only work indirectly. Sector performance is an emergent property resulting from decentralized decisions in markets. It is influenced but not fully determined by policy choices. These changes need to be recognized more explicitly in the theoretical foundations, the formation and the implementation of policy. Applying concepts from the theory of complex evolving systems, the paper develops lessons for the design of effective information and communications policy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) in its series ITA manu:scripts with number 04_03.

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    Date of creation: 15 Nov 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:ita:itaman:04_03

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    Keywords: Information and communication technology; governance; complexity; incomplete information; institutions; feasible policy;

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    1. Olivier Boylaud & Giuseppe Nicoletti, 2001. "Regulation, market structure and performance in telecommunications," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2001(1), pages 99-142.
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    10. Gutierrez, Luis H. & Berg, Sanford, 2000. "Telecommunications liberalization and regulatory governance: lessons from Latin America," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(10-11), pages 865-884, November.
    11. Ros, Agustin J, 1999. "Does Ownership or Competition Matter? The Effects of Telecommunications Reform on Network Expansion and Efficiency," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 65-92, January.
    12. Gutierrez, Luis H., 2003. "Regulatory governance in the Latin American telecommunications sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 225-240, December.
    13. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 2001. "Competition in Telecommunications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262621509, December.
    14. J. Barkley Rosser, 1999. "On the Complexities of Complex Economic Dynamics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 169-192, Fall.
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    1. Socio-Economics of Innovation

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