Solving an Island Mystery: Investigations into the Digital Divide

By George Ryder.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 30, 2014 $US5.00

The “digital divide” is defined as the gap that exists between those with and without access to the Internet: the digital “haves” and “have-nots” is considered to be of such fundamental importance by academics and social researchers alike that it is the subject of wide ranging debate about its causes and remedies. It separates the digitally enabled from a global majority who are not and who are thus somewhat disadvantaged in terms of participating in wealth creation opportunities both domestically and internationally. The aim of this research is to investigate why, despite favourable conditions and managed government programmes to narrow the digital divide and promote public access to its services, the level of Internet access on the Isle of Man (IOM) continues to underperform. Primarily because of its demographic characteristics and limited size, the island constitutes a favourable laboratory-like environment for facilitating this aim. This exploratory study uses data from qualitative semi-structured interviews coupled with quantitative governmental census research instruments. Analysing and understanding the data collected—which is not impacted by data from mobile phones and social networks—centred on revealing the underlying causes of the IOM digital divide. The use of a mixed research methodology revealed the existence of groups of islanders as the likely sources of relatively static Internet access levels dating back as far as 2001. Identifying these groups provides a basis for the IOM administration to rethink an ineffective digital divide strategy in order to achieve increased levels of Internet access, savings, and stakeholder benefits. Although the insights described in this investigation are specific to the IOM, they can also provide an effective framework for satisfying research hypotheses and questions into the inhibitors to economic growth and the social dilemmas associated with the digital divide.

Keywords: Digital Divide, Isle of Man, Internet, Exploratory, e-Government, Digital TV, Mobile Phones

The Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 7, Issue 2, October 2014, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 30, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 440.397KB)).

George Ryder

Managing Director, Management Consulting, Kingston University, Arkley, Herts, UK


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