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IT-Enabled Sustainable Innovation and the Global Digital Divides

Farid Shirazi and Nick Hajli
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Farid Shirazi: Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada
Nick Hajli: School of Management, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 17, 1-24

Abstract: This article investigates the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs), human capital, institutional settings, socio-economic, and environmental parameters on sustainable innovation (SI) using archival data for 127 economies from 2008 to 2017. We developed an econometrics research framework for investigating factors influencing SI on a global scale. We found that ICT variables, such as ICT access and ICT broadband network, positively influence sustainable innovation in conjunction with the socio-economic and political parameters. Despite differences among economies in terms of ICTs, socio-economic development, and educational attainment, ICTs are the significant drivers of sustainable innovation and economic growth. We observed a growing digital divide among nations within the context of the knowledge-based economy and the expansion of digital commerce, particularly in the least developed countries and Africa, a phenomenon impeding sustainable innovation growth. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that empirically investigates the global digital divide from sustainable innovation perspectives. The results of this study suggest that to tackle the digital divide issues, policymakers and educational institutes need to perform constructive educational reform in higher education curricula, particularly concerning STEM programs, which should reflect the necessary skills and competencies for deploying emergent technologies. In addition, ICT should be considered part of a country’s critical infrastructure, particularly investment in the broadband networks regarded as the backbone of today’s innovation.

Keywords: sustainable innovation; ICT; digital divide; e-commerce; FDI; STEM; civil liberty; economic freedom; institutional settings; intellectual capacity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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