Chapter 2: The Institutional Transformation of Telecommunications between Europeanization and Globalization
3802_GovernTelecoms/Chap 2 22/8/02 8:53 am Page 3 2. The institutional transformation of telecommunications between Europeanization and globalization Volker Schneider KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY, GLOBALIZATION AND INSTITUTIONAL REFORM1 During the last three decades the telecommunications sector has changed in an unprecedented way. It has been transformed from a marginal area of economic activities into the core infrastructure of the coming information society. Major components of this new social formation, as outlined by the American sociologist Daniel Bell (1980) in the early 1980s, are rapid changes in technology, large investment in research and development, intensive use of information and communications technology, and the growth of knowledgeintensive businesses. What are the key factors triggering and driving this deep structural transformation? In the centre of the process are new communications and information technologies, which help in the gaining, sharing and the application of knowledge. The major entities of this new infrastructure are computers and modern telecommunications networks, for instance the Internet. The main driving force is technical progress, and a closely related pressure is the globalization of the world’s largest economies. During the last decade this has fuelled technical and economic competition, while further pushing the process of economic concentration. Unprecedented fusions and takeovers have taken place in these techno-economic areas. An important precondition for this rapid transformation and the diffusion of information technologies was the removal of former institutional restrictions in the areas of international trade and domestic competition. In most advanced industrial countries telecommunications infrastructures have been liberalized and privatized. The most...
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