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Governmental promotion of the Information Society in the Spanish Region of Valencia
Abstract: Regional spheres are considered essential in the governmental promotion of the Information Society at the international level. The regional initiatives in Spain aim to strengthen and complement the initiatives promoted at the national level. This article analyses ICT penetration in the Valencian Community from 1996 to 2008. The objective is to identify which of the actions carried out by the Valencian Regional Government have had a positive effect on its society.
The methodology employed in this study is benchmarking. The selection of indicators is based on the policies evaluation model proposed in the Plan Avanza (Spain’s national Information Society strategy). Data were collected from official statistical sources (like Spain’s National Statistics Institute, INE). Three statistical tests were applied to verify the hypotheses (Pearson’s r2, Chi-square and Student’s t).
The results indicate that it is not possible to affirm that the actions implemented by the Valencian Regional Government have had a more positive effect on its society than those implemented by the Spanish Central Government. A reason for this may lie in the specific objectives of the political strategy implemented by the Valencian Government, which has focused primarily on e-Government and does not include enough projects centred on the implementation of new technologies in the private sector. Moreover, the integration of new technologies in everyday life is placed in a second level of importance despite citizens are central actors in the international agenda.
Keywords: impact assessment; policies; ICT; Information Society.
Summary: 1. Introduction. 1.1. The promotion of the Information Society and the regional sphere. 1.2. Measuring the Information Society and evaluating public policy. 1.3. Priority action lines of the Valencian Regional Government. 2. Methodology. 3. Results. 3.1. Linear associations between the Valencian Community and Spain. 3.2. Differences between the Valencian Community and Spain: Goodness of fit. 3.3. Differences between the Valencian Community and Spain: Central tendencies. 4. Discussion and conclusion. 5. References. 6. Notes.
Translation by Cruz Alberto Martinez-Arcos, M.A. (University of London)
1.1. The promotion of the Information Society and the regional sphere.
The present study is part of a project of greater importance that analyses and compares the initiatives to promote the Information Society (IS) and their results in 17 autonomous communities of Spain. This article focuses on the analysis of ICT penetration in the Valencian Community from 1996 to 2008, and in particular to the framework defining the political strategy to promote the IS in this region.
The concept of “Information society” strongly reappeared in the 1990s to refer to a new reality generated by the changes produced by the new ICTs, which deeply affected the social systems and relations (for example, Castells, 1997).
The information sector is one of the two parts constituting our society. It combines three processes: the development of the contents industry, the increase in the IT industry, and the emergence of a network that distributes and gives access to information (Cornella, 2002). The IS has been regarded as an opportunity for economic growth and innovation. However, this economic process must be complemented with a more cultural process that forces us to focus on knowledge and its implications, such as the integration of new technologies in everyday life.
In fact, the IS promotion policies, even at the international level, have been fundamentally technocentric (Becerra, 2005, 2008). They have forgotten a large part of its cultural mission (De Moragas, 2009), even if it were to the detriment of the development of the information culture, which is key in the development of the IS (Cornella, 2002). This issue acquires special significance when it is assumed that the governmental support is necessary to stimulate these processes (Jordana and Sancho, 1999). The information policies are public policies that gather a heterogeneous set of documents (laws, decrees, plans) with more or less direct effects on its media system and citizens. So the analysis of public policies in this field is relevant and necessary.
The study of the typology of such policies at the European level and their implementation in several countries has been deepened (e.g. García Leiva, 2009; Fernández, et. al., 2008). Scholars have examined the process and the effect of the national policies implemented in the audiovisual field (Zallo, 2010; Fondevilla, 2009) and in particular in DTT (Franquet, et. al., 2009; Marzal and Casero, 2009). Other scholars have exposed the processes to grant licenses of DTTP (Digital Terrestrial Television of Proximity) at the regional level, and of Local TV at the local level (Ortega, 2009; Corominas et. al., 2007). Some others have analysed the regulation of these media (Sanmartín and Reguero, 2009) and showed the interest and relevance of the regional sphere in this entire process, as well as the lack of coordination at various levels.
Other interesting lines of debate are located within this same framework to continue the reflection on the Internet as a tool for accessing the services and contents of the IS, and its governance (Soria and García, 2009). These studies have shown the relevance of the Internet in the development of the IS.
1.2. Measuring the Information Society and evaluating public policy
In light of the theoretical framework and the political agenda, several models for the systematic measurement of the IS have been proposed, and they highlight the main factors and their relationships. Common dimensions have been extracted from the different proposals (e.g. UN, 2005; Meroño and Sabater, 2004).
During these years the strategy carried out by the European Union to assess the process of IS promotion policies has been based in benchmarking, which is a comparative evaluation of different companies, countries or governments implementing policies that have the same objective (Kouzmin et. al., 1999).
According to the latest European report (EC, 2009), Spain obtained good results in the development and implementation of e-Government, but is below the European average in the services offered by enterprises over the Internet and the use of new technologies by the citizens (according to data from 2008). In addition, in Spain the standardisation of ICT use in these areas (enterprises and citizens) has been slower than in other countries, at least, since 2004, despite the implementation of the Info XXI plan in 2001 and Plan Avanza in 2005.
1.3. Priority action lines of the Valencian Regional Government
The Valencian Community (hence VC) is one of the first autonomous communities in Spain to implement specific plans for the promotion of the IS. It has implemented three plans in this area: the Strategic Modernization Plan for the Valencian Government (PEMAV), from 1996 to 1999; the Modernization Plan (Moderniza), from 2000 to 2003; and the Master Plan for Advanced Telecommunications (Avantic), from 2004 to 2010.
Table 1: Strategic plans for the promotion of the IS
Source: Authors’ creation based on official documents. I. P. = number of included programmes.
The first Strategic Plan was constituted by diverse projects grouped into four areas: efficient administration, responsible administration, interrelated administration, and decentralised administration. The second plan incorporated in its objectives the Strategic Plan for Telecommunications. But it was the last plan, Avantic, which collected more resources. The budget destined for its 63 initial projects was of 2,741 million euros. If we compare this figure with the figures in the previous plans, we can see that the difference is really significant (see table 1).
Avantic is structured in three parts. The first one collects all the programmes related to development of infrastructure (PEVTA). The second (PETIC) is aimed at three types of beneficiaries: Government, citizens and enterprises. The third consists of a series of horizontal programmes that are defined by the common aspects of the previous two programmes.
The first group includes 19 projects for which 41% of the plan’s total budget was assigned. The second group is the worst affected by the distribution of the plan’s total budget (9%). Finally, more resources are assigned for the horizontal programmes than for the specific lines of the Plan: 50% of the plan’s total budget.
Based on the previous information, the objective of this study is to assess the support of the Valencian Government by paying attention to the impact of its actions and the main areas highlighted by the models designed to measure the development of the IS. The object of study is relevant not only because the promotion of the IS has constituted a strategic line of priority in the last twenty years, but also because it has been proved to be one of the greatest political bids of the Valencian Government. Therefore, this research should verify whether the actions carried out by the Valencian Government have had a positive effect, based on the following two hypotheses:
H2: The Valencian Community stands out significantly in the indicators belonging to the categories that are most closely related to the Valencian Government’s policy for the promotion of the IS included in the last plan, which had the greatest budgetary contribution (uses and infrastructures).
The methodological strategy of this study is based on the principles of benchmarking, following the methodology of the impact assessment reports on the policies promoting the IS in the European Union. The data provided by the indicators for the Valencian Community (VC) will be compared to the national-level data.
The indicators used in this study have been selected based on the joint action of several criteria. We included, on the one hand, the indicators that are part of the IS assessment model used by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce to evaluate the compliance of the Plan Avanza (MICT, 2009) and, on the second hand, the indicators used by the Localcom model.
The model in which the development of the index Localcom was based summarises the international and national proposals but adjusted to the regional sphere (Murciano, 2009). The index aims to show the development in terms of the IS of the Spanish Autonomous Communities through 23 indicators grouped in three categories (uses, infrastructures and opportunities) and six subcategories (economic capacity, skills and competencies, networks, terminals, intensity of use, quality of access and participation) (see table 2).
The index is a map of indicators whose synthetic version allows drawing conclusions related to the development of new technologies in Spain in comparative terms, and, in turn, provides an idea of the results of the plans implemented by the regional governments in the field of new technologies.
We will use the indicators with the same object of observation, provided that all the subcategories of the model are included (see table 3). For operational reasons, from the indicators with the same objects of observation the most synthetic will be selected (e.g. GDP per capita instead of GDP in millions of euros and the number of people separately).
Table 2: Theoretical and metric Model
Source: Authors’ creation based on official documents and the LOCALCOM model. (*) These are indicators with the same object of analysis.
Table 3: Indicators selected by subcategory
Once the indicators were selected (see table 3), we applied three tests to verify the hypotheses of the study. The tests show the (association and distance) correlation between the evolution of the data from the VC and Spain as a whole.
Secondly, the statistical estimator Chi-square (X2) to observe the existence of changes across years in the VC in relation to Spain. This estimator measures the goodness of fit of a distribution of data (the observed frequencies) with the frequencies that should be expected in order for such distribution not to be different. In this case, the observed frequencies are the data from the VC; and the expected frequencies are the data from Spain. For ease of calculation this test was performed with the help of Excel.
3.1. Linear associations between the VC and Spain
By focusing the analysis on the selected variables we can notice a close relationship between the data from the VC and Spain in most cases.
The GDP per capita (R2= 0.994) co-varies to a significant level of correlation. Above 0.9 are also the population with higher education (R2= 0.902), households with mobile telephony, computer and Internet (R2= 0.991, R2= 0.992, R2=0.990), enterprises with Internet (R2 = 0.995), broadband (R2=0.989) and website (R2=0.978), and frequent users (R2= 0.948). Near this score is only the degree of literacy among the population over the age of 15 (R2= 0.897).
Households with broadband do not follow a linear association (R2= 0.468) just like the business volume in the IS (R2=0.375). The lowest score is provided by the average level of studies at the age of 17 (R2= 0.044).
Table 4: Correlations of the VC and Spain between indicators
Source: Authors’ creation. Codes of indicators in table 3.
3.2. Differences between the Valencian Community and Spain. Goodness of fit
All the goodness-of-fit tests indicated that we cannot consider the distributions of the VC and Spain to be different, except in three cases in which X2 is very high: the GDP per capita, the volume of investment in the IS, and households with broadband (see table 5).
Table 5: Chi-square of the VC and Spain between indicators
Source: Authors’ creation. Codes in table 3. DF = degrees of freedom.
3.3. Differences between the Valencian Community and Spain. Central tendencies
The test applied for the GDP per capita shows that the means of the VC and Spain in the analysed period (1995-2008) are different to a level of significance of 95% (t=- 5.581).
At the same level (95%) there are differences in the means of the business volume in the IS (t=- 4.932), the literacy level among adults (t= -3.759), population with higher education (t= -9.825), households with computer (t= 9.168), Internet (t= -6.467) and enterprises with website (t= - 9.591).
Table 6: Test of related samples, Student’s test (VC-ES)
Source: Authors’ creation. Summary of results provided by SPSS. Codes in table 3. *negative sign = the mean of Spain is greater than the mean of the VC.
4. Discussion and conclusions
This study uses a system of indicators to measure the main strategic actions with an evaluative purpose. In this sense, one of the major difficulties of the evaluation of any programme is to establish the extent to what the effect was actually produced by the programme. In other words, it is not known whether the observed change, in case it exists, would have occurred in the absence of the implemented measures. In order to know this effect, in an experiment the control group is often used, but this methodological approach has many limitations for the case under study due to the social nature of the governmental intervention.
Regarding the results, the data lead us to reject the first hypothesis. The tests show associations in most of the indicators selected between the VC and Spain, and few differences.
The distance between means was confirmed once again for the two indicators of the “economic capacity” subcategory (GDP per capita and the business volume in the IS). In addition, the mean is statistically different for two of the three indicators that form the “skills and competencies” subcategory (Literacy among adults and population with higher education). Both subcategories belong to the “opportunities” category and all of them appear with a negative sign. In the other two categories (infrastructure and uses) we can only observe mean differences in three of the nine analysed indicators (households with computer, households with Internet and enterprises with website).
As a consequence, the second hypothesis would only be valid for households with computer. The rest of the Student’s t scores that provide significant differences are negative. Moreover, if we take into consideration only the negative sign of the estimator (without considering whether the mean difference is significant or not) 10 of the 14 indicators would be below the national mean.
In short, none of the hypotheses has been confirmed. In light of the statistical analysis, there are no differences between the data from the VC and Spain to suggest, in an overall assessment, that the plans implemented in the VC have in some sense provided more benefits than the national policies.
Therefore we cannot say that the actions carried out by the Valencian Government have had a positive effect, at least, with greater intensity than the actions carried out by the central Government. In other words, with the intention of knowing the impact of the political intervention in the field of information society, by observing minimal differences between the VC and Spain and even a lower position of this community, it is understood that he regional intervention may not be producing the desired effect, or produces an effect in the same direction than Spain’s central government.
One of the reasons may lie in the specific objectives of the political strategy carried out by the Valencian Government that, in the light of the European reports, does not differ from the effects achieved by the national policy when compared with other countries. The general strategy, from the first plan, of the VC has focused on e-Government. As clearly shown in the analysis of the budgetary distribution, the main beneficiary of the various plans has been by far the governmental authorities, which suffices to affirm that the government has continued to be primarily a user, and not a promoter or guarantor of the IS in the Valencian Community.
Despite the fact that the business network of the Valencian Community is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, which could hinder the implementation of innovative processes, there is not a predominance of projects related to the implementation of new technologies in the business sector as a necessary competitive tool, and/or an opportunity of economic growth. Likewise, the integration of new technologies in everyday life is situated in a second level of importance, despite the fact that the citizens are central actors in the international agenda. Therefore, many of the factors that should be taken into account for the promotion and development of the IS have been excluded.
Thus, in the near future the major budgetary efforts should be applied to those programmes and actions aimed at improving the indicators in which the VC is significantly behind the national average. According to the results of our analysis, it is necessary, therefore, to focus the different actions on the other main beneficiaries (citizens and enterprises), as the international agendas propose, in order to achieve a greater promotion of the IS in the Valencian Community. It is necessary, therefore, to adjust the strategy by taking into account the reality of the VC, but without missing the opportunity, in line with the proposals and predictions of some authors, to consider the convergence of the policies of communication and culture in the future, in order to achieve the full development of the IS.
5. Bibliographic references
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 The indicators proposed by the integral measurement model for the IS respond to the design of policies. The more symbolic aspects of the IS are not collected in such models due to both operational reasons (the indicators subject to perceptions are usually depreciated) and consistency with the evaluated object. However a first approach to ICT knowledge and integration in the everyday life can be made through the access and frequency of use.
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Papí-Gálvez, N. and Feliu-García, E. (2011): "Governmental promotion of the Information Society in the Spanish Region of Valencia", at Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 66, pages 274 to 291. La Laguna (Tenerife, Canary Islands): La Laguna University, retrieved on ___th of ____ of 2_______, from
Article received on 17 January 2011. Submitted to pre-review on 18 January. Sent to reviewers on January 19. Accepted on 14 March 2011. Galley proofs made available to the authors on 15 March 2011. Approved by authors on 16 March 2011. Published on 17 March 2011.
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