Knowledge Intensity of Information Technology: Implications for the Digital Divide in the Age of Globalization

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Increasing global connectivity enabled by advanced information technology (IT) has arguably become a new source of global inequality between those wired and those unwired. Some predict this new divide to replace more traditional divides along political or socioeconomic characteristics, while others foretell it to reinforce the latter. This paper explores which scenario is more likely and why. I hypothesize that whether IT eradicates or effaces old divides hinges on the degree to which IT development is knowledge-intensive. If devices or products supported by advanced IT require a substantial level of skill and knowledge for their use, such IT development is likely to widen the existing socioeconomic divide. I further claim that current globalization has favored knowledge-intensive ITs, hence worsening the existing inequality. I test this hypothesis on the cross-sectional and longitudinal data, deriving measures of knowledge intensity of selected IT categories, linking them to the socioeconomic characteristics of the target users, and tracking their relationships over time. One of the implications of this study for higher education is that higher educational institutions pressed to adopt more knowledge-intensive IT in this globalization era may unfortunately perpetuate existing inequality unless they make conscious efforts to countervail such effects.
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World Universities Forum

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STP-Conference Papers(학술회의논문)
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