Technology in Developing Economies

Cooper, W. (2002) Information Technology and Internet Culture. The Journal of Virtual Environments, 6(1).

Cooper's essay examines the increasing ubiquity of the Internet and related technologies in an abstract, philosophical sense. While not explicitly about developing countries, the article discusses the impact of the Internet on the world and human culture at large. Cooper investigates three major philosophical stances on the role and future of the Internet utopianism, dystopianism, and pure utilitarianism as well as the idea of a technopoly, in which culture surrenders completely to technology.

Creating a Development Dynamic: Final Report of the Digital Opportunity Initiative, July 2001. Accenture, Markle Foundation, United Nations Development Programme.

In this detailed report with several primary contributors, the authors present a strategic framework to guide stakeholders who are investing in information and communications technologies (ICTs). The article relates numerous successful accounts of ICT being used to make improvements in health, education, the environment, and economic opportunity in countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Estonia, India, Malaysia, South Africa, and Tanzania. Moreover, it describes how specific ICT achievements projects can help low-income countries achieve the goals of the Millennium Declaration set by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2000. This review provides a combination of opinions from both the public and private sectors.

Davis, K. and Ochieng, C. (2006) ICTs as Appropriate Technologies for African Development. IFC / FT First Annual Essay Competition, Business and Development: The Private Path to Prosperity, 42-55.

This bronze prize research essay introduces the idea of an appropriate economy, or one that is uniquely designed based on a country's specific situation. The authors, both researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute, suggest that African nations should not attempt to emulate the formal economic structure that has been successful in many developed countries. They find that African entrepreneurs are adapting information and communications technologies (ICTs) into products and services more suited to the needs of the population. This paper examines several compelling case studies from around the continent to demonstrate how mobile technology and as a result, greater access to market information, are contributing to and defining Africa's "modern" economy.

Fallah, M. H. and Al-Atiqi, A. K. (2002) Information Economy and Developing Countries: Can They Overcome the Technology Barrier? International Association for Management of Technology.

In this paper, the authors project the growth of telecommunications in Saudi Arabia for ten years, between 2000 and 2010. In doing so, they attempt to answer the question of whether developing countries can adapt to the shifting of the global market from a technology-based economy to an information-based one. Perhaps because of their background at an academic institution, the Stevens Institute of Technology, the authors rely on a Fisher-Pry model in their analysis. They perform their predictions multiple times to obtain more comprehensive results, evaluating their model with values of teledensity, wireless density, and total density. According to this study, Saudi Arabia is not projected to achieve a leadership position within the world economy within the next decade if its investments in telecommunications infrastructure remain constant.

Anonymous. (2005, December 8) For China, brain drain key to brain gain. China Daily. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from

In addition to educating their citizens, developing nations must find ways to entice their citizens, once educated, to remain in their homeland as opposed to emigrating to more developed nations where they can apply their skills and training to earn higher wages and enjoy higher standards of living. This article presents the manner in which China actively encourages its best and brightest to leave the country in pursuit of a western education so that they may then return home to China.

Gauri, V. and Vawda, A. (2004) Vouchers for Basic Education in Developing Economies: An Accountability Perspective. The World Bank Research Observer. 19(2), 259-280.

This article studies two basic archetypes for education in developing nations: government-run and private-run education. Through its examination, the article uncovers strengths and weaknesses in both models, and it presents the use of educational vouchers as a compromise between the two systems (which has strengths and weaknesses of its own).

Gertler, P. and Glewwe, P. (2008) The Willingness to Pay for Education in Developing Countries. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.

In many developing nations, it is not possible to increase the quality of education without increasing the associated fees so as to generate adequate revenue to sustain schools. The authors of this article use areas in rural Peru as a case-study to determine whether the poorest segment of citizens are in fact willing to pay the necessary fees to cover the establishment and operation of additional secondary schools in their villages.

Global Economic Prospects 2008: Technology Diffusion in the Developing World. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.

This comprehensive publication provides an overview of the recent and current state of technology and technological diffusion throughout the world. It contains a wealth of quantitative data from various areas of the world, along with informative graphical summaries that illustrate changing trends with time. This report emphasizes the need for strong diffusion of technology within countries to facilitate increased economic advancement. In addition, it asserts that industrialized nations dominate the global technological frontier, and that increased technology use in developing countries is mainly limited to the adoption of preexisting technologies, rather than the invention of novel ones.

Goodman, James. (2005) Linking Mobile Phone Ownership and Use to Social Capital in Rural South Africa and Tanzania. Vodafone Policy Paper Series, 3.

In this paper sponsored by the world's largest mobile telecommunications network company, the author analyzes quantitative data of mobile phone use in two African countries, South Africa and Tanzania, to explain how this new technology can support social capital in these regions. This study is also useful because it draws on previous research that demonstrates a strong relationship between social capital and economic growth / better health.

Gunawardana, K. (2007) Current Status of Information Technology And Its Issues in Sri Lanka. International Journal of the Computer, the Internet and Management, 15(3).

Gunawardana assesses the state of technological diffusion, with special regard to the Internet, in developing countries. The author uses Sri Lanka as a case study, and examines the effects of information technology on politics, business, education, and culture. Sri Lanka is representative of a large percentage of the developing world due to its ongoing transformation from a rural to an urban economy, as well as its importance to and reliance on developed nations. The country is politically and culturally tumultuous, so the effects of the Internet in the near future are likely to be rather dramatic.

Herrera-Estrella, L. R. (2000) Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries. Plant Physiology, 124, 923-925.

This general report summarizes the global state of biotechnological applications, including transgenic plant varieties and functional genomic products, along with the current situation in food production and distribution. The author, a professor at Cinvestav-Mexico, argues that technologies being investigated in high-income countries have not been tailored to agricultural problems in developing countries, such as highly acidic soils and tropical fruit over-ripening. As a result, he identifies several areas of research with the potential to have a global impact. The author also urges private companies to view small farmers in developing countries as potential consumers, so that demand can be created for issues specific to low-income nations.

Anonymous. Indian Institutes of Technology. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from

This article provides useful background information on the Indian Institutes of Technology, a system of government-sponsored technical institutions in India. One of the article's chief contributions is a section discussing "Brain Drain" in India.

Kaiser, J. (2008) Money — With Strings — to Fight Poverty. Science, 319(5864), 754-755.

One of the major obstacles to raising education rates in developing nations is that poor families cannot afford to send their children to school because they cannot afford to give up the labor their children offer at home. This article presents an unconventional approach to this problem currently being employed in Mexico: giving families cash rewards for sending their children to school and investing in preventative health-care. This practice in Mexico has inspired a similar pilot program in New York.

Kleinwachter, W [editor]. (2007) The Power of Ideas: Internet Governance in a Global Multi-Stakeholder Environment.

This book is a joint publication between several authors involved with research in Internet governance and policy, under the auspices of the "Germany — Land of Ideas" campaign and the United Nations' Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Contributing writers represent a wide variety of cultures and perspectives; together, they summarize the current and future state of the networked globe. The book is organized into five major categories of Internet development concerns: access, openness, diversity, security, and critical resources. The authors stress the importance of cooperation and bottom-up development, as well as the need to maintain healthy relationships between governments, the private sector, civil society, and academia.

Narendran, R. (2005) Globalisation and Enterprise Culture in Developing Economies: A Preliminary Assessment. Proceedings of the 2005 Critical Management Studies Conference, University of Cambridge.

Narendran aggregates a large amount of prior work and statistical data on globalization and technology. The paper focuses on the global spread of entrepreneurship that has accompanied the expansion of the Internet, and its consequences on culture in developing countries. Narendran discusses India's situation in depth, describing how technological and entrepreneurial development is constrained by the caste system and misogynistic practices, but is also helping to dissolve these barriers.

Negash, S. and Patala, L. (2006) Telecommunication Investment in Economically Developing Countries. Proceedings of the 2006 Southern Association for Information Systems Conference, 29-34.

In this study, the authors compare the percentage of GDP allocated to telecommunication investment from developing countries and industrialized nations. Their goal is to determine whether a nation can optimize its annual telecommunication investment to stimulate economic growth. They found that the majority of economically developing countries (EDCs) spent more than 1% of their GDP on telecommunication. However, the paper did not provide any further breakdown of these figures for these nations. The authors surmise that although EDCs recognize the importance of telecommunications, it is not feasible for them to make further increases in their annual telecommunication investment.

Raney, T. (2006) Economic Impact of Transgenic Crops in Developing Countries. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 17, 1-5.

In this review article, the author explores the effects of transgenic crops in several developing countries, with a focus on China, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, and India. Although the paper was published in a scientific journal mainly about biotechnology, it provides a detailed discussion of relevant economic issues and even makes suggestions for public policy changes that might increase the performance advantage of transgenic crops over conventional ones. One particularly important point the author makes is that transgenic crops can benefit even small, family farms in developing countries. Nevertheless, this review is limited in that it only addresses insect-resistant cotton and herbicide-tolerate soybeans, presumably because these are the most commonly exported transgenic crops.

Sadowsky, G. (1996) The Internet Society and Developing Countries. OnTheInternet, November/December 1996, 23-39.

Sadowsky gives a comprehensive overview of the role and future of the Internet in developing nations. He discusses the potential advantages and disadvantages of the Internet's continued spread, paying special attention to the effect of technology on culture and on individual quality of life. The author explains how consequences can be explored in the rural regions of the United States to ensure a more effective large-scale international expansion. This article was written for the Internet Society (ISOC) magazine OnTheInternet; as such, the author also promotes the role of nonprofit organizations like ISOC, whose goal it is to provide leadership in Internet policy around the world. While the article was written in 1996, it provides some "historical" context for the development of these issues, and it also highlights the fact that, twelve years later, our broad concerns are largely the same.

Spolaore, E., Wacziarg, R. (2006) The Diffusion of Development. First Annual Symposium on Technology and Culture, Stanford University.

This presentation of a paper discusses the barriers to the spread of technology in the information age. The authors argue that technological diffusion is largely constrained by genealogical differences, and that cultural differences affect innovation just as much as innovation effects cultural change.

Sullivan, T. (2007, April 9) India High-Tech Industry Out of Workers. Redmond Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2008, from

This Associated Press article explores some of the problems in India's educational infrastructure. Specifically, the author examines the lack of funding, the pressure for quantity over quality of engineers in an expanding market, and an over-emphasis on test scores and other quantitative measures, noting that these factors manifest themselves in a shortage not of workers, but of qualified workers. The article also presents a case study of how one corporation, Infosys Technologies, has taken on the task of re-educating its technical employees in the areas that universities and technical institutes do not.

Tallon, P. P. and Kraemer, K. L. (1999) The Impact of Technology on Ireland's Economic Growth and Development: Lessons for Developing Countries. Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 7, 7028-7039.

The authors of this paper present the intriguing case of Ireland and analyze it progress in becoming Europe's "Celtic Tiger". In particular, the policy of "industrialization through invitation" has allowed foreign investors in computer production, software, and services to make significant contributions to the nation's economy. Because overseas firms dominate many sectors of the Irish computer industry, the nation's economic success largely depends on the global demands for information technology, a weakness that the authors concede. This paper also includes suggestions for developing countries, especially for short-term results. It is useful that the authors recognize that different conditions exist in less developed countries, some of which may be steep barriers to technology integration.

Waverman, L., Meschi, M. and Fuss, M. (2005) The Impact of Telecoms on Economic Growth in Developing Countries. Vodafone Policy Paper Series, 3.

This article analyzes the introduction of telecommunications in developing countries and how this facilitates participation in the modern world economy. The authors, who are employees of the global expert services firm LECG, compare the growth and expansion of fixed-line networks and mobile phones in low-income nations using two empirical strategies, the annual production function (APF) and the endogenous technical change (ETC). Their results indicate that mobile phones have both a positive and significant impact on economic growth in developing countries, similar to the impact that fixed-line telephones had in richer countries during the 1970s and 1980s. This paper summarizes its findings by suggesting to countries wishing to participate in the modern economic universe to make telecommunications a national priority.

Wenzel, E. (2007) Vietnam a Crouching Tech Tiger. Living with Technology, CNET Reviews. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from

This online feature article highlights the cultural flux in much of the third world due to rapid technological change, using Vietnam as a case study. The author discusses positive effects of the Internet, such as increased literacy and personal wealth, as well as potential problems, such as censorship disputes, software piracy, rising pollution levels, and unsustainable development. The relationship between Vietnam's incredibly active weblog community and its extremely restrictive, state-controlled media is particularly interesting.

by Joe Cackler, Emily Gu, and Mike Rodgers
for CS 201: Computers, Ethics, and Social Responsibility
at Stanford University
on March 17, 2008