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10.1.1.129.9450 - Asian Review of Public Administration Vol...

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63 Asian Review of Public Administration, Vol. XIII, No. 2 (July-December 2001) Globalization and Information Technology: Forging New Partnerships in Public Administration SH. SUNARNO, Jakarta, Indonesia Globalization and Information Technology: An Overview of Issue GLOBALIZATION means new market, particularly for those who are economically well developed. This is the fact. And information technology is one of the technologies fostered to the new market in this increasingly competitive world. The implication of this basic argument could be found in many other sectors, both within the private and within the public sectors. In the private sector, globalization has revolutionized internal management. It has also made easier the interaction between countries, regions and continents, thus contributing to profitability. It is the private sector’s philosophy that propelled efforts to utilize every means, including information technology, to make companies survive, even the biggest and the most powerful company in the world. Even though globalization and information technology had been widely accepted as two sides in one coin, this paper argues that there are three factors, which counter the inevitable movement towards globalization. Firstly, the incremental force of technology is flawed. Secondly, the imperialism of technology overcoming all barriers fails to reconcile the cultural dimensions of both the developing context or the application domain. Technology is not culturally neutral but is developed in a cultural context and in the case of information rich countries, IT applications carry that cultural context within their designs. Applications of culturally developed systems, such as office and management systems assume the user’s compliance with the design culture, but this inevitably leads to cultural clashes when the systems are applied outside the design context. Thirdly the assumption of universality of economic access and development is incompatible with both the reality and development paths in both developed and developing countries. This inevitably will lead to a divided society split between the internationally mobile, technology-supported communities and those communities that are disadvantaged economically and technologically but are culturally rich. The failure to bridge this gap may leave society as a whole weakened through lack of access to ‘variety.’ The global information infrastructure mostly comes from the developed countries. Thus, the inevitable question is whether it signals empowerment or imperialism of and for the developing countries? Electronic imperialism and colonization has become new terminology in this increasingly competitive world marketplace. Utilization of IT could
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ASIAN REVIEW OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 64 not be achieved if having empowered developing countries, they are colonized thereafter.
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