E-commerce and socio-economic development: Conceptualizing the link

Richard Boateng, Richard Heeks, Alemayehu Molla, Robert Hinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - E-commerce is diffusing into developing countries (DCs), and is assumed to help deliver the international development agenda. But how can the connection between e-commerce and socio-economic development be conceptualised? The aim of this paper is to analyse that connection by drawing from the development studies discipline to take a broader perspective on e-commerce than that so far provided by firm-level research. Design/methodology/approach - The authors adopt a literature survey approach, drawing their conceptual foundations from development studies, and supplementing this from the e-commerce literature. Findings - The paper develops a new, integrated model that explains the way in which e-commerce can contribute to socio-economic development. Research limitations/implications - This new model can help provide a foundation for future research on e-commerce in DCs; research on e-commerce policy as well as impact assessment research. Practical implications - The discussion and model provide development agencies, governments, consultants and business people working in DCs with a clearer sense of the contribution e-commerce can make; assisting them in prioritization, planning, and evaluation of e-commerce projects. Originality/value - The paper provides the first integrated perspective on the broader contribution of e-commerce to the growth and development of DCs. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-594
Number of pages32
JournalInternet Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Developing countries
  • Economic development
  • Electronic commerce

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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