The Dictator's Dilemma and the Politics of Telecommunications in Cuba: A Case Study

106 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012

See all articles by Rachel Fredman

Rachel Fredman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 18, 2012


The concept of the "dictator's dilemma" refers to the balance between authoritarian governments' use of information communication technology for economic development with their need to control the democratizing influences of this technology. This thesis explores this concept by conducting a case study of authoritarian Cuba. It applies a modified version of the "political replacement effect" - a theory that was initially developed by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (1996), which posits that rulers only adopt technological innovation if it does not threaten their political survival - as a theoretical framework. This study analyzes technology adoption indicators and the training of information technology professionals during three time periods in Cuba (1992-1997, 2000-2005, and 2006-2011) through the lens of this framework. These time periods differ in political and economic dimensions. This thesis finds some empirical support for this theoretical framework. However, it concludes by noting the need for further exploration of how the dictator's dilemma relates to international political dynamics and the image authoritarian governments wish to project to other international actors.

Keywords: Cuba, information communication technology, dictator's dilemma, telecommunications, control, authoritarianism, IT training

Suggested Citation

Fredman, Rachel, The Dictator's Dilemma and the Politics of Telecommunications in Cuba: A Case Study (April 18, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Rachel Fredman (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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