Global Village or CyberBalkans: Modeling and Measuring the Integration of Electronic Communities
Marshall W. Van Alstyne
Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Management Science, Forthcoming
Information technology can link geographically separated people and help them locate interesting or useful resources. These attributes have the potential to bridge gaps and unite communities. Paradoxically, they also have the potential to fragment interaction and divide groups. Advances in technology can make it easier for people to spend more time on special interests and to screen out unwanted contact. Geographic boundaries can thus be supplanted by boundaries on other dimensions. This paper formally defines a precise set of measures of information integration and develops a model of individual knowledge profiles and community affiliation. These factors suggest specific conditions under which improved access, search, and screening can either integrate or fragment interaction on various dimensions. As IT capabilities continue to improve, preferences - not geography or technology - become the key determinants of community boundaries.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Globalization, Information Economy, Information Flows, Computerization of Society, Organizational Structure, Economic Impacts, Balkanization, Social Networks
Date posted: July 27, 2005
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