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Digital Dispersion: An Industrial and Geographic Census of Commerical Internet Use

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  • Chris Forman
  • Avi Goldfarb
  • Shane Greenstein

Abstract

Our study provides the first census of the dispersion of Internet technology to commercial establishments in the United States. We distinguish between participation, that is, use of the Internet because it is necessary for all business (e.g., email and browsing) and enhancement, that is, adoption of Internet technology to enhance computing processes for competitive advantage (e.g., electronic commerce). Employing the Harte Hanks Market Intelligence Survey, we examine adoption of the Internet at 86,879 commercial establishments with 100 or more employees at the end of 2000. Using routine statistical methods, we focus on answering questions about economy-wide outcomes: Which industries had the highest and lowest rates of participation and enhancement? Which cities, states and industries had a typical experience and which did not? We arrive at three conclusions. First, participation and enhancement display contrasting patterns of dispersion. In a majority of industries participation has approached saturation levels, while enhancement occurs at lower rates and with dispersion reflecting long standing industrial differences in use of computing. Second, the creation and use of the Internet does not eliminate the importance of geography. Leading areas are widespread, whereas laggards are more common in smaller urban areas and some rural areas. However, the distribution of industries across geographic regions explains much of the difference in rates of adoption of the Internet in different areas. Third, commercial Internet use is quite dispersed, more so than previous studies show.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9287.

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Date of creation: Oct 2002
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Publication status: published as Wildman, Steve and Lorrie Cranor (eds.) Rethinking Rights and Regulations: Institutional Responses to New Communication Technologies. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9287

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Cited by:
  1. Jordi Pons-Novell & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, . "Cities and the internet: The end of distance?," Studies on the Spanish Economy 198, FEDEA.
  2. Battisti, Giuliana & Canepa, Alessandra & Stoneman, Paul, 2009. "e-Business usage across and within firms in the UK: profitability, externalities and policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 133-143, February.
  3. Giuliana Battisti & Heinz Hollenstein & Paul Stoneman & Martin Woerter, 2005. "Inter and Intra firm Diffusion of ICT in the United Kingdom (UK) and Switzerland (CH) : An Internationally Comparative Study Based on Firm-level Data," KOF Working papers 05-111, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  4. Betsey Stevenson, 2009. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Chapters, in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 67-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Yartey, Charles Amo, 2008. "Financial development, the structure of capital markets, and the global digital divide," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 208-227, June.
  6. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2005. "Technology Adoption In and Out of Major Urban Areas: When Do Internal Firm Resources Matter Most?," NBER Working Papers 11642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Chris CM Forman & Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2012. "From wires to partners: How the Internet has fostered R&D collaborations within firms," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/105990, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2003. "How did Location Affect Adoption of the Commercial Internet? Global Village, Urban Density, and Industry Composition," NBER Working Papers 9979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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