The Pros and Cons of Digital Divide and E-Readiness Assessments

The Pros and Cons of Digital Divide and E-Readiness Assessments

Mohammad Reza Hanafizadeh (Islamic Azad University, Iran), Payam Hanafizadeh (Allameh Tabataba’i University, Iran) and Abbas Saghaei (Islamic Azad University, Iran)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/jea.2009092901
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Evolving information and communication technologies (ICTs) have yielded new terms like “information society,” “digital divide,” and “e-readiness” which have attracted many scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. Therefore, in recent years numerous attempts have been done to develop e-readiness and digital divide models oriented toward certain objectives. In this research, these models are investigated with view to their definitions and methodologies, and their strengths and weaknesses are identified. These findings can help researchers and policymakers select the models that fit in with their objectives as well as identify the defects of previous models and rectify them in their own models. Moreover, the extensive literature review led to an integrated model which is proposed to assess the e-readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Such a model can serve as a basis and standard for developing comprehensive models in SMEs.
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Defining The Digital Divide

There has been widespread debate about the definition of the digital divide and of the empirical analyses of its components (Barzilai-Nahon, 2006). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2001) defined the digital divide as differences between individuals, households, companies, or regions related to the access to and use of ICT (Vehovar et al., 2006). The various factors may cause such a divide such as historical, socioeconomic, geographic, educational, behavioral, generation factors, or the physical incapability of individuals. There are a myriad of studies that address the factors influencing the digital divide and the plentiful models that measure it in terms of different factors widening inequalities including income, occupation, gender and age, education, geographic centrality, ethnicity and race, religion, language, family structure, physical capacity, frequency, time online, purpose, skills and experience, autonomy, affordability, competitive market structure, ownership and density of computers and Web sites, communication infrastructure, equipment, social support, policy structure. In this paper, a brief focus is centered on some of the efforts that are more popular (for more information, see also Barzilai-Nahon, 2006).

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