The Economic and Social Impact of Electronic Commerce

Preliminary Findings and Research Agenda

Though only three years old, electronic commerce over the Internet has the potential to transform the marketplace. E-commerce will change the way business is conducted. Traditional intermediary functions will be replaced, new products and markets will be developed, and new relationships will be created between business and consumers. It will alter the way work is organised and open new channels of knowledge diffusion and human interactivity in the workplace. Workers will need to be more flexible as their functions and skills are redefined. The changes e-commerce will bring are far-reaching. They require new frameworks for doing business and a re-examination of government policies relating to commerce and skills. What is electronic commerce? What is the current state and likely future direction of e-commerce? What are the drivers and what are the inhibitors? What is its impact on costs, prices, and ultimately on economic efficiency? How is it affecting intermediaries? How do firms compete in the electronic environment? What market structure is likely to emerge? What is the impact on jobs? What types of skills will be needed? What major societal transformations will it entail? The full impact of e-commerce remains to be seen. This book begins to address these questions and provides a ground-breaking assessment of the economic and social impacts of electronic commerce and its effects on jobs by drawing on existing qualitative and quantitative evidence. This early analysis of an extremely dynamic activity identifies a number of areas where research is urgently needed and serves as the basis for an informed policy debate.

English French