Information and communications technologies (ICTs) constitute a potentially transformative force in world politics. The industries associated with these technologies are growing rapidly, and some have argued that their importance in the overall economy at both the national and global levels increased in recent decades. ICT industries include both goods producers and service providers. ICT manufacturing includes all the goods-producing industries that use semiconductor components, such as consumer electronics, the computer industry, the telecommunications equipment industry, and industrial and military electronics. Within each of these groups, there are sub-industries that specialize in particular segments of the market. The services side of ICTs is also very large in terms of revenues and employment, and is growing rapidly. ICT services include, among others, the software industry, telecommunications services, data processing, and web-based information services. Many scholars argue that the importance of ICT industries goes beyond the revenues and employment generated in the industries themselves, however. ICTs may also be transformative in that they reduce transaction and communications costs in the overall economy. They make possible new forms of organization of human activity, especially as globalization and digitalization is progressing rapidly in the recent decades. Such processes have attracted the attention of international relations scholars, as they have been focusing on international regimes governing ICT-related activities in the past decade.
Information Technologies and the Global Political Economy
Jeffrey A. Hart
The Information and Communication Revolution and International Relations
Jonathan D. Aronson and Peter F. Cowhey
Major trends in information and communication technology (ICT) are transforming the global commercial and technology landscape. Since 1945, the US market has been the most consistent agenda setter for the global market. But now, as economic gloom haunts the world, and as a new President settles in the United States, predictions abound that American dominance in international relations will give way to the leadership of China or others. However, if the United States acts vigorously on the policy front, it can maintain its international leadership position until at least 2025. In addition, the information revolution has also accelerated the changing of international actors’ roles. This is because the web and the information revolution had resulted in tremendous security, political, economic, social, and cultural consequences, which altered the roles of countries, companies, non-governmental actors, and international institutions in the conduct of international relations. ICTs can also leave a significant impact on foreign policy, as these can affect democratic and authoritarian rule, as well as give rise to the “CNN effect,” which is a relatively recent phenomenon which has a tendency to alter the extent, depth, and speed of the new global media. As the ICT revolution spreads across the planet it also resets the international relations playing field, with significant consequences for security, and political, economic, social, and cultural interactions.
Computer-Mediated Communication Technology and Cross-National Learning
Derrick L. Cogburn
With the advent of globalization, the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for socioeconomic development are changing rapidly and dramatically. These skills include the need to better understand how to manipulate symbolic knowledge and how to work in global virtual teams. New applications of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and new organizational models have helped to create important developments in areas such as e-commerce, e-government, and e-learning. Universities, companies, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and international organizations have worked to develop strategies for dealing with these monumental changes, including developing “global” strategies for building networks, fostering cooperation, and expanding their geographic reach. For all these reasons, it is important to identify and evaluate new methods of teaching international affairs and studies of globalization that capitalize on the tremendous advancements in ICTs. These approaches should take advantage of lessons learned from collaboratories and cyberinfrastructure that allow diverse groups of geographically distributed learners to collaborate in ways that are at times “beyond being there,” or more interactive than if they were located in the same laboratory or seminar room. Six broad and interdisciplinary streams guide the literature leading toward these changes: knowledge creation, education, and learning; group/team dynamics; building trust in virtual teams; culture in global virtual teams; geographically distributed collaborative learning; and infrastructure for distributed collaborative learning.
The World System in the Information Age: Structure, Processes, and Technologies
Joachim K. Rennstich
The new information age has the potential not only to alter the historical path of world system development, as other socio-technological paradigmatic shifts have done, but also to transform it substantially. One school of thought argues for a complete upending of past patterns with nation states in their hierarchical alignment as the center core and periphery of power in this system. An alternative view instead argues that the regularized interaction that characterizes a world system may envisage a number of modes of production without altering its fundamental structure. The world system in this view is made up of a variety of complex intra-organizational and interorganizational networks intersecting with geographical networks structured particularly around linked clusters of socioeconomic activity. Information and carrier technologies based on new forms of information technologies and their connection to network technologies play a vital role in the long-term evolution of world system development characterized by both path-dependencies and major transformations that result from technological innovations. While digital information technologies significantly alter the processing and use of information as a central element of power and control within this network structure and therefore its network logic, they do not break the evolutionary process of world system development.