Towards a Socially Responsible Economy: The Role of Information Technology

AUTHOR
Roderick Mendoza Rupido

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the dynamics of information technology (IT) towards achieving a socially responsible economy and their roles and implications to growth and development. It presents evidences to show that economic growth is strongly related to the extent of an economy’s initial social development.

Society is changing rapidly under the impact of information technologies although we are not sure how if it is for better. Increase in information and innovation brings about benefits coupled with big challenges. The major challenge is how to manage this valuable resource in a responsible manner. The information revolution is changing the nature of information from a physical and tangible entity to its digital counterpart. Networks have expedited the movement of information so that users can be informed more quickly and efficiently. Control of information resources is a critical source of competitive opportunity. However, an even larger challenge arises in managing and implementing technological changes towards social transformation.

The Internet, for example is beginning to transform the way we do things. It seems to engulf the whole world and has certainly transformed our lives and dramatically reshaped the way we live. Its influence has been pervasive and profound. But this rapid diffusion has also created some notable ethical and social challenges.

With the increased access to information and the redefinition of information as a commodity, the potential for misappropriation and/or misuse of information may likewise pose some threats. Thus, while some challenges deal with the management of information, others deal with the development of technologies that create, process, store and retrieve such information.

In tandem with access and speed, advanced hardware and software systems enable users to enhance the quality and relevance of information. Through sophisticated search engines, research can be conducted in a relational manner, delving deeper into topics and associated themes. However, the qualities of information acquired are crucial and are deemed instrumental to the individual’s social and moral development.

The nature and focus of information technology needs to map balanced views for monetary and non-monetary benefits. Taking this seriously will provide key to understanding and learning social development through proper utilization of information and communication technologies.

The nature of IT has to change in order to reflect its new roles to meet the need for a more holistic approach towards social development. Evaluation needs to be more wide-ranging to incorporate the richness of the intangible and unexpected costs, benefits and risks of modern IT projects. Sensible evaluation decisions should be made by the careful analysis and fair judgment, with social responsibility as the core basis.

Information Technology transformation should be regarded as a process and as a continuous opportunity for learning. This will promote a deeper understanding of its content, context and process. It is through this richness of understanding that situations will be dealt with more accurately. Evaluation research and practice therefore, needs to be used to meet the demands of the dynamic changes since new information and communication technologies have the potential to make significant impacts.

Advances in information technology have generated some unique and difficult problems. The increased availability, mobility, and value of information create a special responsibility to maximize benefits and prevent its misuse. Specific concerns should be geared towards morally upright utilization of information and communications facilities, which calls for setting up of ethical and social management systems to benefit the society.

The study attempts to answer the following specific questions: What are the effects of IT transformations to an economy? What is the role of IT in achieving socially responsible economy? Assuming that the forces that encourage IT transformation will remain and become much stronger in the future, how can the government manage their significant effects without necessarily impeding progress of economic growth?

IT requires sound management for sustained and continued growth, improving the social capabilities and upholding the ethical and moral standards of the society. Its development has to be managed effectively to achieve a socially responsible economy. Policies, processes and systems must be developed, implemented, maintained and updated to ensure that information acquired and/or used really contribute to the demands of the society.

Institutions must strive to ensure that IT utilization is judiciously made in decision-making and priorities are set to develop a morally endowed economy. This challenge must be addressed not only by the individuals, but also by the entire global community.

Note:
This paper is conducted at Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Japan under the International Doctoral Program in Economics funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The author acknowledges the invaluable support of Professor Takashi Hikino of Department of Economics, Kyoto University for his support, comments and suggestions.

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