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Abstract

The digital divide refers to the separation between those who have access to digital information and communications technology (ICT) and those who do not. Many believe that universal access to ICT would bring about a global community of interaction, commerce, and learning resulting in higher standards of living and improved social welfare. However, the digital divide threatens this outcome, leading many public policy makers to debate the best way to bridge the divide. Much of the research on the digital divide focuses on first order effects regarding who has access to the technology, but some work addresses the second order effects of inequality in the ability to use the technology among those who do have access. In this paper, we examine both first and second order effects of the digital divide at three levels of analysis ? the individual level, the organizational level, and the global level. At each level, we survey the existing research noting the theoretical perspective taken in the work, the research methodology employed, and the key results that were obtained. We then suggest a series of research questions at each level of analysis to guide researchers seeking to further examine the digital divide and how it impacts citizens, managers, and economies.

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