Will the Digital Revolution Revolutionize Development? Drawing Together the Debate


Work data:

Type of work: Article (academic)


Development | ICT4D


This concluding article returns to the broad question that motivates this special issue of Studies in Comparative International Development: Will the Digital Revolution constitute a revolution in development? In addressing this issue, we explore a number of common themes emphasized by the different contributions: the future of the North-South divide, the role of the state in promoting digital development, the transferability and adaptability of specific information and communication technologies, the challenges and potential benefits of controlling digital information, and the developmental effects of digitally enabled communities. We argue that the Digital Revolution’s ultimate impact on development will depend on several key variables, including the extent to which these technologies foster within-country linkages among different sectors and socioeconomic classes; the degree to which new technological applications may be customized or transformed to advance local development; and the outcome of political contests between organized interests that are promoting different ways of organizing and governing the global digital economy. While it is difficult to fully assess a transformation while living in the midst of it, research on the social, political, and economic implications of the Digital Revolution will constitute an important agenda for development scholars in the years to come.