The aim of the project is to extend previous research on the effects of ICT use on firm performance by various aspects, and to gain additional insights into the effects particularly of recent ICT applications. The empirical analyses are based on firm-level data.

Use of different performance measures

Different measures of firm performance are to be used. In addition to productivity which is the predominant measure of firm performance in the empirical literature, employment at the firm-level and a direct measure of firm profitability are to be considered.

Consideration of heterogeneous ICT components

Firms use a wide variety of ICT applications. Therefore, and in contrast to previous studies, different types of ICT are taken into account. The data set underlying this project includes detailed information on the use of specific technologies or types of software in the surveyed firms. Electronic commerce has undergone special attention in the public debate, because it is perceived as a technology having the potential to substiantially change the way of trading products and services. Therefore, the influence of e-commerce on firm performance will be a focal point within the project work. Additionally, various e-business technologies are considered reaching beyond electronic commerce and involving the trans-departmental mapping and control of business processes.

Strategic complementarities between ICT and other factors

The project further analyses the extent of which positive effects of ICT use on firm performance are reinforced by complementary factors. These factors comprise technologies or ICT applications on the one hand, and investments in intangible factors on the other hand. Intangible factors include changes in workplace organisation, skills and training, or innovations.

Differences between short- and long-term effects of ICT usage

Due to adjustment processes, positive effects of ICT use on performance are often realised only in the medium or long term. Furthermore, many firms are supposed to have introduced new ICT applications such as e-commerce during the new economy boom without a realistic cost-benefit-analysis. In these firms, e-commerce use can be expected to be less successful than in other firms, which decided to introduce e-commerce later, but on the basis of stricter investment criteria.