Governmental Developments To Support The Uptake Of Online Technologies: EU, UK & Scotland from early 1990s to around 2005

Research output: Working paper


Online technologies (e.g. transaction enabled websites) are a relatively new innovation,
which offers many possibilities for both more efficient and new practices. Where they
have been accessible (e.g. within more developed economies) they have been rapidly
taken up by both individuals and organisations. Moreover, these new technologies have
been viewed by institutions (i.e. governmental organisations) as an opportunity to provide
international competitive edge, about which they have taken the lead to promote their
The aim of this paper is to chart these institutional developments and reveal the changing
symbolic value of online technologies over time. This symbolism manifests in the claims
of statements and the variety of initiatives, legislation and reviews. The account presented
is primarily descriptive and identifies events within the EU, UK and Scotland over a
relatively short period commencing in the early 1990s and ending around 2005. This
period is perhaps a transition phase, which marks the ‘dawn’ of the diffusion of the
world-wide-web conceived by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 and released into the public
domain in 1992. The material is drawn from a variety of institutional websites and
official documents.
It reveals the perception that these new technologies are important and thus their uptake
needs to be encouraged. Indeed, deterministic claims about the benefits of these new
technologies, has translated into a series of initiatives to promote uptake as well as
legislation to regulate against misuse. Progress has been monitored within the EU by
annual surveys. In recognition of inequitable uptake both socially and geographically (the
‘digital divide’), additional initiatives were pursued. Perhaps most significant within the
UK, was the formation in 1999 of “The Office of the e-Envoy” as part of the UK
Government’s Cabinet Office, symbolising the status accorded these new technologies.
However, its dissolution in 2004 perhaps symbolises the view that these new technologies
had become mainstream. Within Scotland, separate e-business support was absorbed in
2005 within the mainstream of business advice. Online technologies had ‘come of age’.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh Business School
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

Publication series

NameUniversity of Edinburgh Business School Working Paper Series


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