Digital Dispersion: An Industrial and Geographic Census of Commerical Internet Use

59 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2002 Last revised: 27 Oct 2015

See all articles by Chris Forman

Chris Forman

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Shane M. Greenstein

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2002

Abstract

Our study provides the first census of the dispersion of Internet technology to commercial establishments in the United States. We distinguish between participation, that is, use of the Internet because it is necessary for all business (e.g., email and browsing) and enhancement, that is, adoption of Internet technology to enhance computing processes for competitive advantage (e.g., electronic commerce). Employing the Harte Hanks Market Intelligence Survey, we examine adoption of the Internet at 86,879 commercial establishments with 100 or more employees at the end of 2000. Using routine statistical methods, we focus on answering questions about economy-wide outcomes: Which industries had the highest and lowest rates of participation and enhancement? Which cities, states and industries had a typical experience and which did not? We arrive at three conclusions. First, participation and enhancement display contrasting patterns of dispersion. In a majority of industries participation has approached saturation levels, while enhancement occurs at lower rates and with dispersion reflecting long standing industrial differences in use of computing. Second, the creation and use of the Internet does not eliminate the importance of geography. Leading areas are widespread, whereas laggards are more common in smaller urban areas and some rural areas. However, the distribution of industries across geographic regions explains much of the difference in rates of adoption of the Internet in different areas. Third, commercial Internet use is quite dispersed, more so than previous studies show.

Suggested Citation

Forman, Chris and Goldfarb, Avi and Greenstein, Shane M., Digital Dispersion: An Industrial and Geographic Census of Commerical Internet Use (October 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9287. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=341855

Chris Forman

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416-946-8604 (Phone)
416-978-5433 (Fax)

Shane M. Greenstein (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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