Abstract - The Information Society 19(1)

E-Commerce in France: Did Early Adoption Prevent its Development?

Eric Brousseau

France's early adoption of Minitel and EDI in the 1980s was both a stimulus and an inhibitor to Internet-based e-commerce. It hindered the adoption of the Internet, but it also created the conditions for a rapid catch up when France switched to the Internet in 1997. The French were already open to the use of IT, a dense network of on-line specialists and information service providers already existed, and many investments required to go digital were already made. On the other hand, by mid-2001 France was still far behind the early adopters of e-commerce over the Internet. This is because the French catch up was checked by the implosion of the Internet financial bubble in 2000. Secondly, many Internet-based business models did not fit the French distribution channels. These differences suggest that e-commerce paths of development can be differentiated among nations, because both needs and solutions differ. This conclusion goes against the conventional wisdom that e-commerce will lead to the emergence of an integrated global marketplace in which common commercial practices will be implemented.

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