Digital economy

Final ICTNET Conference on the Economic Impact of ICT: Policy Drivers and Economic Evidence (OECD, Paris, 25-26 June 2012)


Permanent URL of this page:

Background and objectives | Agenda

Speakers' biographies (pdf)

Watch the conference sessions: Webcast archive

Follow on Twitter: #OECD_ICT

Background and objectives

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have put policy makers in a fast-changing environment, where new technologies and new businesses practices call for a continuous rethinking of their policies.

Over the last two years, the International Research Network on the Economic Impact of ICTs (ICTNET) has contributed to coordinate the economic research in some key policy areas. Financed by European Commission (DG Information Society and Media), the ICNET project has aimed at enhancing the coordination of the research in the economics of ICT in Europe. Its objective is to bring together leading researchers on the economics of information and communication technologies (ICT) in order to discuss recent scientific contributions and outstanding policy challenges.

ICTNET project is organised around four main work packages:

  • ICT, productivity and growth
  • ICT R&D and intangibles
  • ICT-enabled innovation
  • ICT diffusion to the economy

Eight workshops were organised in Parma, Mannheim and London in the course of 2011 and 2012 to address key questions related to each of these work packpages with the participation of academic researchers, private sector decision makers and policy makers. More information about the different research areas and workshops is available on the ICTNET website.

This final ICTNET conference aimed to offer the main conclusions of this work to the discussion by policy-makers. The conference was organised around the topics at the core of the ICT policy agenda worldwide. Each session brought together representatives from the policy arena and the research community. Policy makers discussed the areas where more economic evidence and analysis is needed to support ICT policies. Economists addressed these policy questions based on the findings of their ongoing research.

The conference aimed to provide policy makers with evidence and tools to measure the economic impact of ICTs, assess the effectiveness of their current policies and feed into the ICT policy agenda for the years to come.


All sessions were moderated by Mr. Romesh Vaitilingam

Monday, 25 June 2012

Setting the scene

Opening session

  • Andrew Wyckoff, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry
  • Detlef Eckert, European Commission, DG INFSO

ICT diffusion and use: regulations and new industrial policies 

The diffusion of ICT has been the major driver of productivity and growth over the last two decades. However, countries, industries and firms continue to show significant differences both in the intensity of ICT use and in their capability to reap the productivity gains from ICTs.

Several studies show that cross-country differences in the diffusion of ICTs are largely related to market regulation. In particular, tighter regulation in the labour and product markets seems negatively associated to the productivity gains from ICTs whereas countries with higher flexibility tend to benefit more from ICTs. They also suggest that policies should promote product market competition, faster adjustment in labour market and openness to trade.

Complementary to regulation, there is increasing attention to the active role that governments may play through new industrial policies. The objective of these policies is not to “pick winners” in ICT industries but to help all firms to benefit from the knowledge spillovers generated by ICT networks.

Policy makers

  • Karl Pichelmann, European Commission, DG ECFIN
  • Judith Winternitz, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Canberra, Australia


  • Bart Van Ark, The Conference Board,
    New York, United States
  • Elie Cohen, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France


ICTs and intangibles: unleashing the economics of "big data"

In recent years, intangible assets have gained a prominent position in the agendas of researchers and policy-makers alike. As part of the increasing interest for intangible assets, ICTs have received a special attention.

Successful adoption and use of ICTs by businesses require complementary investments in intangibles, like training, management and organization. Iconic companies, such as Microsoft and Google, are renowned for owning relatively little tangible capital and for placing high importance on the skills and creativity of their employees.

Computerized information (software and databases) accounts for a significant proportion of total intangibles. The data gathered on the purchase preferences of e-customers has become a business asset for on-line retailers. And ICTs themselves are increasing the economic value of information.

The increasing importance of intangible assets raises significant challenges for policy in areas such as taxation, competition, intellectual property rights, corporate reporting and privacy. Governments are called to play a key role in addressing potential market failures that may hamper investments in intangibles assets, particularly in software and digital data.

Policy makers

  • Detlef Eckert, European Commission,
  • Tony Clayton, The Intellectual Property Office, United Kingdom


  • Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT, United States (via videoconference)
  • Jacques Mairesse, INSEE-CREST, France


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

ICTs, innovation and productivity: market signals and policy incentives

ICTs appear as a major driver of innovation. They have the potential to increase innovation by speeding up the diffusion of information, favouring networking among firms, enabling closer links between businesses and customers, reducing geographic limitations, and increasing efficiency in communication.

Fulfilling the innovative potential of ICTs requires a transformation by both companies and policymakers that has just begun. Success with this transformation would start with a clearer understanding of what ICTs can do and what it is working in leading firms and sectors.

Public policies need to ensure that incentives to innovation are aligned across the economy, that education promotes creativity and that the quality of ICT infrastructure is adequate to support innovation.

Policy makers

  • Richard Simpson, e-Novation Consulting, Canada
  • Lucilla Sioli, European Commission, DG INFSO


  • Marshall Van Alstyne, Boston University, United States
  • Eric Bartelsman, Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands



ICTs, employment and growth: the way to recovery?

In the current context of low growth and high unemployment, many governments regard ICTs as a key channel to foster growth and generate new jobs. While ICTs are creating new markets and boosting existing industries, particularly services, they are also reducing employment in traditional industries and occupations. As a result, their overall contribution to employment and growth remains unclear.

The role of policies to support growth potential of ICTs also requires further investigation. Should policies directly support ICT investments in order to create new markets and new jobs? Or should they be targeted on the development of ICT skills in the workforce? More generally, should ICT-specific policies have a priority over broader, well-established macroeconomic policies?

Policy makers

  • Lars-Henrik Myrmel-Johansen, Department of ICT Policy and Public Sector Reform, Norway
  • Barbora Novotna, European Commission, DG Employment


  • Gilbert Cette, Banque de France, Paris, France
  • Tobias Kretschmer, Munich School of Management, Germany


Shaping a research agenda for the future 

Conference conclusions

  • Lucilla Sioli, European Commission, DG INFSO
  • Vincenzo Spiezia, OECD, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry


Related Documents