Perusing E-Readiness and Digital Divide: From A Critical View

Perusing E-Readiness and Digital Divide: From A Critical View

Mohammad Reza Hanafizadeh (Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Iran), Payam Hanafizadeh (Allameh Tabataba’i University, Iran) and Abbas Saghaei (Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-597-1.ch015
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With the advent and evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in general, the Internet, in particular, throughout the world, new terms such as “information society,” “digital divide,” and “e-readiness” were added to terminologies. Due to the rapid diffusion of the Internet in different aspects of human life, these concepts have attracted many scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. In addition to much academic research done in these fields, nearly all countries have assessed their e-readiness and compared their digital divide with that of other countries, at least once. Consequently, there have been numerous e-readiness and digital divide models oriented towards certain objectives in recent years. The findings show (1) tremendous importance of the digital divide and e-readiness and (2) their complex and multi-faceted natures. Thus, effective examination and development of digital divide and e-readiness research requires a foundation in several rich literatures. Examining the e-readiness and digital divide literature in terms of their definitions and methodologies, in the current chapter, their strengths and weaknesses were recognized. Moreover, after an extensive literature survey, an integrated model was proposed for assessing e-readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can be used as the basis and standard for developing comprehensive models and frameworks in these enterprises. Finally, this chapter contributes to scarce literature on e-readiness/digital divide at micro level and creates additional pool of resources that practitioners and theorists could use to further enrich and extend their analysis of this construct.
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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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