A Brief Business History of an On-Line Distribution System for Academic Research Called NEP, 1998-2010
31 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2011
Date Written: October 1, 2011
Applications of information technology have been directly responsible for the increase in productivity of business, government and academic activities. Business and management historians have yet to contribute to better understanding such processes. This paper aims to address this shortcoming through the internal and organisational history of a system for speedy, online distribution of recent additions to the broad literatures on economics and related areas called NEP: New Economic Papers.
This is a first person account (partly autobiographical) which also includes interviews and the use of archived e-mail correspondence.
The advent of the Internet promised a revolutionary change by democratising the social institutions related to the creation and dissemination of academic knowledge. Instead, this story tells how participants slowly but steadily tended to replicate established institutions.
Researching the impact of the Internet on organizations is a promising topic for historians, for which this might be one case study.
The development of NEP provides an illustrative example for the kind of new business models that have emerged as the Internet has been used by creative minds to provide existing services in a new way.
This paper provides a story of the NEP project and shows how one person’s drive could generate a broader community of volunteers (constituted by a large number of academics and practitioners who provide critical support for its functioning). We provide details of the social and technological challenges for the construction of the technological platform as well as the evolution of its governance.
There is no historiography in business and management history on how to deal with changes in archived material resulting from the application of information and telecommunication technologies. Given the rate of change for events in the third industrial revolution, this article shows is its possible and indeed relevant to document events in the recent past.
Keywords: digital libraries, on-line communities, New Economic Papers (NEP), RePEc
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