Abstract - The Information Society 9 (4)

Caught in the middle: Information technology policy in Australia

Jason Dedrick and Kenneth L Kraemer

Australia's treatment of information technology (IT) has vacillated between 2 policy directions: laissez faire, market directed strategy on the one hand, and strong government interventionist, plan directed strategy on the other. The resultant policy mix is more a collection of individual initiatives than a coherent strategy. It produces conflict between initiatives aimed at developing indigenous information industries and those improving the productivity and competitiveness of all industry by encouraging the wider application of IT. Policies must be developed through the give and take of a democratic political process, a process that can lead to fragmented, uncoordinated policies based on bureaucratic inertia, the demands of special interest groups, and short-term political considerations, rather than long-term strategic plans. The future of IT policy in Australia will depend upon the kinds of consensus that can be achieved on the role of IT in economic development. It will also depend on the government's skill in implementing policy and on the reactions of the private sector to whatever policies emerge.

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