The role of ICT as a double-edged sword in fostering societal transformations

Gunwoong Lee, Benjamin Shao, Ajay Vinzé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been central to economies seeking improvements in societal conditions. The impacts of ICT advancements manifest themselves in both socioeconomic and sociopolitical changes. While socioeconomic restructuring and, more recently, sociopolitical changes have often been attributed to ICT, research on its impacts and nuances in countries differentiated by economic levels remains sparse. The focus has been on the two ends of the strata for developing and developed economies and restricted to the impacts of ICT on economic metrics like GDP growth. In this study, we explore the pivotal role of ICT in societal transformations for countries categorized as developing, transition, and developed economies. Leveraging endogenous growth theory and social network theory, we hypothesize about the different impacts of ICT across the three economic classifications. Using panel data from 1995 to 2012 for 37 countries belonging to the three economic groups, we empirically investigate the associations between ICT investments and societal outcomes. Our results reveal that ICT has an impact on societal outcomes for transformations, but the nature of its contributions to social change varies with the stage of a country’s economic development. The analysis suggests that developing economies benefit the most from ICT investments with an overall improvement in socioeconomic and sociopolitical conditions, while the ICT effects are either insignificant or negatively inclined for developed economies. Transition economies show mixed ICT effects in stimulating socioeconomic and sociopolitical transformations. These results provide insights for actionable policies and suggest directions for building an ICT-enabled Bright Society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-246
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Developing
  • Endogenous Growth Theory
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
  • Social Network Theory
  • Societal Transformations
  • Transition and Developed Economies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications


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