A Discussion Paper  For the OECD Ministerial Conference on Electronic Commerce  Ottawa
7 - 9 October, 1998
By Roland Schneider  Senior Policy Adviser TUAC


1. The world is experiencing a period of impressive technological development. Traditional means of information, communication and computing are merging. Technologies of telephone, facsimile, television, audio-video discs and computers have brought about vast changes in the methods of personal communication as well as in the organisation of the development, production and marketing of goods and services. 

Internet - the basis for Electronic Commerce  

2. Advances in telecommunication and computing have brought about a communications revolution, based on the rapid growth of the Internet. During past years, its impressive expansion caused much of the interest in the web. More recently, a shift of interests occurred, interest is more and more centred on its economic potential. This is due to the fact that the "net of the networks" is still experiencing both a dynamic growth in its application and a significant change in the objectives of its use. In addition to being a source of information and a means of communication, the Internet has become more and more a medium of education and entertainment. But the Internet is also now becoming an important medium for electronic commerce. An increasing number of businesses are using the Internet to organise the process of designing, manufacturing and selling goods and services. Business activities related to the purchase of components, logistics, inventories, advertising, marketing and distribution rely more and more on the Internet. 

 Electronic Commerce - new visions of the business community  

3. Some forecasters expect Internet commerce to start having significant macroeconomic effects in the years ahead. According to Forrester Research, a US consultancy group, retail spending on the Internet is forecast to rise from $ 1,8 bn last year to almost $ 10 bn by 2001. But electronic commerce encompasses a wider spectrum of activities than retailing, it covers any form of business transaction that is conducted electronically, i.e. through computers and telecommunication networks. Electronic commerce includes ordering of goods and services as well as the online delivery of some services. Of great importance is electronic commerce between businesses. According to Forrester Research, Internet commerce conducted only among U.S. businesses by the year 2002 will rise to $ 327 bn, equal to 2,3 % of gross domestic product. 

4. For some economists this digital revolution brings the world closer to the ideals of perfect competition. They argue that it will contribute to a further reduction of transaction costs, that it lowers barriers of entry and that it will improve access to information for the consumer. They consider that the explosive growth of the Internet will bring about a revolution in the way business is conducted. Furthermore, they expect that the digital revolution will lead to the replacement of entrepreneurs by “netrepreneurs” and that the traditional marketplace will increasingly give way to a new marketplace, which is timeless and seamless. 

5. Electronic commerce provides business with new opportunities to exploit the customisation of products and services whilst at the same time achieving better use of production capacity. It allows business to conduct their activities by the use of networks and to streamline these. It is expected that the supply chain in manufacturing will undergo significant further change. This will go beyond the current trend of subcontracting and outsourcing noncore activities. These changes are leading to a debate about the appearance of a new manufacturing paradigm in which manufacturing in the future is based more and more on a partnership between product developers, contract manufacturers, distributors and retailers. 
Electronic commerce is considered to be an important means to reduce costs. It is expected by many observers that falling transaction and delivery costs will lead to a substantial decrease in the price of goods and services. The argument applied here is to say that customers will place their orders electronically, that some intermediaries will not be needed anymore and that manufacturers as well as remaining retailers can more efficiently organise the order and delivery of parts and supplies. 

6. It is expected that electronic commerce based on the Internet will not stop on national borders or geographical boundaries. Electronic commerce is expected to enable business regardless of size, to reach customers anywhere in the world. It offers customers and consumers the opportunity to purchase and order goods and services independently of time and space. Consumers will be able to consult online offers of product and services and make a better-informed purchase decision. Some observers point out that due to electronic commerce consumers will no longer need to visit the High Street. Instead they can enjoy the convenience of locating and purchasing information, goods and services from their home independently of the opening hours of shops. Finally it is expected that electronic commerce will lead to a stiffer competition based on the provision of a higher quality of products and services as well as on the reduction of prices. 

7. Against this background some commentators are predicting that efforts to exploit the potentially enormous economic benefits of electronic commerce will lead to the growth of new fields of innovative businesses and markets and contribute to economic growth and job creation, especially in the fields of software and the provision, organisation, management and presentation of information. It is clear that the pervasive impact of electronic commerce both on companies and on the society as a whole will lead to very significant structural change. What is far less clear is whether this change will take place as smoothly as suggested. Experience with past technological development like the automated office, robotics and biotechnology, raises some doubts concerning the optimistic vision being presented. Rather, past experience suggests that far reaching technological development doesn't just have benefits but also costs. The goal of policy must be to achieve a fair distribution of the benefits of this process of change and to avoid or reduce the costs. 

Warning signs for Electronic Commerce - myths and realities  

Limited cost savings  

8. The net is “open for business”. But will electronic commerce provide a driving force for the 21st Century Global Economy? Will it enable, as some predict, small and medium sized companies to communicate easily with external suppliers, subcontractors and customers? Will it increase efficiency and bring down transaction costs almost to zero? According to some reported success stories the answer to these questions would seem to be a clear "yes". A close look at the experience so far however presents a different picture. 

9. In contrast with expectations, business on the web seems to be rather costly to transact with long pay-off periods. Amazon, a recently founded “click-and-buy” bookseller and the most quoted example of success in electronic commerce, was indeed successful in expanding its revenues from roughly $ 16 million in 1996 to more than $ 147 million last year, but profits are non-existent so far. It is reported that Amazon spent more than $ 50 million in setting up its cyberspace business. 

10. In contrast to claims made by some forecasters and Web salesmen that selling in the cyberspace can save costs, real efficiency gains from buying on the web are rare once shipping costs are included. In a recently conducted poll, business executives reported that their companies charge for online business the same price as for traditional non-online transactions. Some reported higher prices concerning their online offers. That indicates that consumers may be charged for using the convenience of click and buy. Therefore, the digital marketplace may not end up as great saver for consumers. “Be aware” is the conclusion for consumers to be drawn from current shopping experience on the web. Surveys indicate that virtual stores offer little in the way of lower prices. Even if it is less expensive to sell on the web, the number of price pioneers among new and young “Netrepreneurs” is very small! 

 Increasing dependency of small and medium sized enterprises  

11. Efforts to establish new ways of conducting business are raising new problems. For instance, vertical integration is giving way towards “virtual integration”. But while networks will be dominated by large multinational companies, small and medium sized enterprises will be increasingly dependent. At the same time, due to outsourcing and subcontracting, their role as employers will increase. Furthermore, on one side virtual integration requires broad networking alliances based on trust and mutual gains. On the other side virtual integration contributes to an increasing dependency on the supply chain and hence vulnerability. Network alliances pose the risk of loosing control of knowledge, experience and intellectual property rights to other companies. In addition, they contain the danger that secrets concerning product development and business strategies are leaking to competitors. 

Consumer concerns 

12. Currently, only a limited number of consumers are buying over the Internet. Their behaviour is determined mainly by two factors. First, to buy the necessary IT-home equipment is still in many cases expensive. To keep pace with fast developments of hardware and software is still simply beyond the purchasing ability of many consumers. Second, a great number of consumers are concerned about the security of payment systems, reliability of business and lack of an opportunity for redressing when things go wrong. 

13. Public concerns are related to the violation of privacy guidelines and norms by a number of software applications, access providers and suppliers of information, goods and services on the Internet. Several surveys provide evidence for the fact that consumers have little privacy protection on the Internet. A survey of over 1 400 web sites, conducted recently by the US Federal Trade Commission, indicated that "industry's efforts to encourage voluntary adoption of the most basic fair information practices have fallen short of what is needed to protect consumers". According to this survey, ninety-two percent of the 674 commercial web sites examined collect personal information. But only 14 percent provide any notice with respect to their information practices. Only two percent have a comprehensive privacy policy. An even more disturbing picture is presented by the privacy policy related to web sites directed towards the attraction of children. Almost ninety percent of the 212 surveyed children's web sites collect personal information from children. But less than a quarter of those sides tell children to seek parental permission before providing information to the site. 

14. What is more disturbing is that the leading proponents of self-regulation in the field of privacy have not been living up to their professed standards. A review of 100 of the most frequently visited web sites concluded that none of them met basic standards for privacy protection. Other surveys indicate that efforts of business organisations, like the US Direct Marketing Association (DMA), to promote sufficient privacy practices are having little impact on its members. But to get its own house in order with regard to the protection of privacy is not only a task concerning business. It is a task of a number of government administrations, too. They failed in passing tests of their own privacy recommendations. 

 Productivity effects 

15. The potential impact of electronic commerce on costs and productivity is considered as a strong driving force behind its fast growth. Many observers, among them the authors of a recent OECD report on "The economic and social impact of electronic commerce", are pointing out that e-commerce will contribute to a great increase in the efficiency of the sales process as well as to dramatic reductions of production costs. Moreover, they admit that e-commerce will have a large impact on sectors that transmit and produce information, like postal services, communications, entertainment, travel agents, finance, stock brokers etc. But at the same time they declare that a widespread elimination of intermediaries due to e-commerce is rather unlikely. This view underestimates the challenges posed by current technological change. It fails to recognise what was outlined by the OECD report on "Technology, Productivity and Job Creation". According to this report positive employment performance does not always follow innovation. Firm level evidence suggests that major productivity and employment effects are only achieved if innovative activities are complemented by organisational change. 

16. Reports by management consultants and other studies give contradictory views concerning the impact of e-commerce. They accept that e-commerce lowers costs by reducing both labour and material inputs. Accordingly, the disappearance of intermediaries from the value added chain is considered as a possible scenario. E-commerce, together with some other new applications of information technology for the first time opens up far reaching opportunities to achieve important labour saving effects in both the private and public service sector. This is due to the fact that the close link between production and consumption of services will be weakened, either by the reproduction of stored information almost free of charge or by IT-supported self-performed services by customers or clients. 

Job creation 

17. Admitting that electronic commerce will have labour saving effects is not to deny that e-commerce will lead to new job creation. There is no doubt that the expansion of e-commerce will contribute to the creation of new knowledge based jobs. But at the same time it will bring about a displacement of a number of jobs. Therefore, there is a danger that the shift towards a digital economy could have major employment shocks. As in the past, innovative success will beside its benefits, have economic and social costs. To admit this is an appeal to take seriously the employment challenges brought about by the expansion of e-commerce and to take an activist approach to promote new job opportunities, career paths and training to the workforce. Moreover, it is essential to prevent the workforce becoming polarized into a rather large segment of unskilled, insecure and peripheral group on the one hand and a small but highly skilled core group with secure employment on the other. 

18. Beyond its impact on the level and the skill structure of employment, conducting business on the Internet will also contribute to changes in the nature of employment. The process of "creative destruction" may end up in a "destructive erosion" of employment. Currently, innovation with regard to selling and buying over the Internet is leading to new network alliances, to outsourcing and subcontracting of manufacturing products and delivering services. Moreover, it goes along with increases in the versatility and flexibility of employment. At the same time the individualisation of labour and self-employment are becoming more and more prevalent. This erosion of traditional job security is mirrored in an increasing number of teleworkers as well as in an increase in precarious employment. This development contains the danger that human capital is wasted and social cohesion is weakened. But an economy increasingly dependent on knowledge and a skilled workforce as well as on high-quality products and services cannot afford an increasing part of the workforce being placed in precarious employment. 

Changing work patterns 

19. Changes in the nature of work, especially major changes in the traditional conception of the workplace and working time, will have an important impact on the growth of information services and e-commerce. Traditional patterns of the time-use are being called into question. Flexibilisation of working time is in many cases increasing rather than reducing pressure on individuals and families. Constraints caused by flexible working time patterns are limiting the time available for the use and consumption of new information technology based goods and services. 

20. The interrelation between the time available to consume and to live was outlined by the follow-up related to the OECD Job Study. The already mentioned report on "Technology, Productivity and Job Creation", which stated that "one of the most notable characteristics of the new information and entertainment services is that their use is time-intensive and market growth is restricted by the time residential consumers have available for using the new services and entertainment services in particular. It is quite often those social groups in which disposable income is concentrated that have the least amount of disposable time, while it is the increasing number of part-time workers with lower relative levels of income who dispose of the most. Significant growth in services thus cannot occur if reductions in or the restructuring of working time are accompanied by reductions in purchasing power. This factors raise important issues with respect to telework, the social and legal underpinnings of work and questions of flexible work regimes and the duration of work". 

Electronic Commerce - leaving it to the markets? 

21. Governments, business groups, international bodies and organisations, among them the group of the seven leading industrialised countries (G7), the OECD, the European Commission and the WTO, have become aware of the economic potential of electronic commerce. They take the dynamic growth of the Internet as a proof for a successful transformation of business, which leads to a decrease of costs, to an increase in productivity and competitiveness. Therefore, the current “conventional wisdom” is that in order to facilitate electronic commerce it is desirable to have a non-regulatory, market-oriented approach to policy. A priority is being given to industry self-regulation and giving the private sector the lead in setting standards. 

22. The main efforts to build a Global Information Infrastructure and to realise the full potential of electronic commerce are following the tracks of deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation. Many governments and international organisations are following a minimalistic approach of intervention and involvement accompanied by further deregulation and liberalisation. They are trying to overcome new challenges of electronic commerce regarding financial and legal issues as well as to improve market access and introducing a "zero tariff" approach to internet trade (WTO). This holds also true for the ongoing OECD work on electronic commerce. Up to now, this work has neglected the social limits of free markets. At current it is, as is indicated by the ongoing crisis of financial markets, challenged by economic limits of free markets as well. 

Computerised technological change and electronic commerce - the debate is lacking a social dimension  

23. The ever-growing application of computers as well as of information and communication technology is often referred to as an "information revolution". Computerised technological change leading into the twenty-first century must give rise to a debate about the nature of the "Information Society". It must be asked whether the information revolution is bringing about a new society without precedent, or rather intensifying ongoing processes in today's society? 

24. There are two alternative responses to this question. A simplistic view, shared by many media, politicians and business representatives, stresses that economic and social changes in the wake of the IT-revolution are inevitably to the benefit of both the economy and society as a whole. Another view, as for example provided by both the outcome of the OECD's Technology/Economy Programme and by the report of the High Level Expert Group of the European Commission, is more cautious in considering the concept of an information society. The latter view rejects the notion of technology as an exogenous variable to which individuals, regardless of social status and work or employment, must adapt just as society as a whole. Instead it considers the development and use of technology as a social process. According to this view society is shaped by technical change, and technical change is shaped by society. 

25. Ongoing debates about the information society and the digital economy are characterised by a lack of a social dimension. Most contributions made so far are based on technological determinism. Calling for further liberalisation and deregulation they clearly overlook the limits of markets. Furthermore, they ignore to some extend the fact that civil society needs realms of political rights protected from the market. An information society simply cannot be based on the superiority of free markets and on technological determinism. What is needed is an information society, which goes along with a fair distribution of costs and benefits, which promotes inclusion instead of exclusion and which provides for a social embediment of new technologies. 

26. The rejection of technological determinism and the recognition of the social aspects of information technology have important consequences. They make it obvious, that policies to promote the widespread use of information technology "cannot and should not be limited to the economic integration of technological change", as the European Commission High Level Expert Group has stated in its final policy report. To provide the prerequisites for a successful endogenous process of technological and social change, negotiated and mediated both within companies and at the level of society at large, all aspects of a broader social integration of technological change must be included. 

27. The theory of “the social embeddedness” of information technology is supported both by practical experience and by scientific evidence. Quite a number of studies and reports (including OECD work) show that IT investment made by large numbers of companies has been less rewarding than could be expected. Projects to introduce and apply IT ran over budget and time schedules. Moreover, many projects failed to meet the performance goals, some failed completely and some were abandoned. The problems companies encounter are in general not caused by the technology itself. They are rather caused by the continuing lack of attention given to the crucial role played by employees and organisational aspects in shaping the outcomes of IT investments. Case studies indicate that successful outcomes have been achieved when employees were actively involved in technical and organisational change, i.e. in the introduction of new forms of work as well as in the setting up of new organisational structures and if training was provided. 

Challenges on the way to an information economy - the trade union agenda 

28. From a trade union perspective, the non-regulatory and market-oriented approach to accelerate the move towards a new digital economy has some links and raises many questions. Is a minimalist approach in state intervention adequate to ensure the necessary legal framework for privacy protection and reliable financial transactions on the Internet? Can further steps to build the Internet, to strengthen the growth of electronic commerce among businesses, to increase new forms of digital ordering and delivering of (electronically) goods and services only take place under the leadership of business? Can the setting-up of new ways of retail sales of tangible goods and new forms of transactions between business and administration as well as between consumers and administration satisfactorily be founded on industry self-regulation? Will the removal of alleged global or national barriers boost electronic commerce? Will it offer at the same time new opportunities for small and medium-sized companies, or will it bring additional advantages to big business? And what about employment, skill requirements and structural as well as organisational change? Are market forces sufficient to promote the necessary retraining and development of human resources? Will they promote the redeployment of workers into areas with new jobs? What are the competition policy implications for growing concentration of Internet access providers? 

Building trust and making electronic commerce work - the necessary steps 

29. Further questions are related to the access to the Internet as well as to the content of information and services. If the Internet becomes an indispensable tool in everyday life, how can an affordable access for consumers and citizens be assured? Up to now the "universal service" has in general guaranteed every community local telephone service at reasonable rates. It is therefore essential to avoid inequality of access and to ensure new possibilities of access for all. There can be no doubt that this requires regulatory measures to enlarge the notion of universal service. Up to now, the application of information technologies and the access to the Internet have been the preserve of a well-educated and privileged part of societies. To avoid social exclusion and a further increase in the gap between information haves and have-nots, the future development of networks and operating systems therefore must enhance access and choice. 

Access for all  

30. It is necessary to ensure and enhance affordable access for consumers and citizens. All citizens, regardless of geography, social and economic status must have access to public information networks and have the opportunity to use them effectively by the provision of support services. Otherwise the growing use of networks will increase the risks of social exclusion and divide the societies into information "haves" and "have-nots". 

Improvement of education and training  

31. Investment in education and training must be increased so as to facilitate access and to strengthen the use of networks in favour of information, communication and commercial transactions. This must be especially directed towards the young, the low skilled and women, aimed to increase their participation in the use of information technology. They stress the need to achieve a better balance between investment in information technology and human capital. 

32. With respect to the ongoing formation of an information society, governments and businesses are urged to support actively the promotion of computer literacy; they must devote more resources to education and training. Education besides its instrumental roles in developing skills and facilitating electronic commerce also supports social cohesion and cultural diversity. 

Ensuring appropriate and inoffensive conten

33. There are strong doubts as to whether the regulation of content, of advertising and the prevention of fraud can be left to industry self-regulation. A free flow of information across regions and national borders must respect both universal principles of human rights and cultural diversity. In considering the problems of enforcing regulation to prevent xenophobia, violence, sedition, racism, pornography and other kinds of inappropriate or offensive content, neither industry self-regulation nor easy-to-use filtering technologies alone offer adequate solutions. There are strong arguments in favour of developing a code of conduct concerning the provision of appropriate and inoffensive content, but the development of such a code as well as the monitoring of its application is anything but a sole task of industry and business. Only in addition of such a code, filtering technologies may support efforts of users and consumers, to shield themselves and their children from offensive content. 

 Guaranteeing Privacy  

34. In order to ensure broad public acceptance of digital market places it is particularly important that existing concerns in areas as privacy within everyday life as well as during working life and consumer protection are resolved effectively. The evidence of the inability of industry and business to make self-regulation work to protect privacy is a strong indication of the need for legislation. What is needed is the existence of enforceable safeguards that provide assurance of privacy for consumers and employers. A mix of adequate data protection regimes and appropriate technology is the right approach to address the concerns related to privacy, consumer protection and offensive and harmful content. Trade unions agree that the application of encryption technologies must be in accordance with the requirements of national constitutions and best practice by business. They do not support the introduction of Key-recovery procedures. Furthermore they support the introduction of digital signatures and authentification to provide a basis for trust and reliability. 

35. Efforts to develop a legally binding framework which defines the conditions under which personal data can be collected and processed can be guided by the principles of the Data Protection Directive of the European Union. This directive defines the conditions under which personal data can be collected, processed and transmitted. What is of great importance too, is the fact that it calls for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data. Moreover, the directive makes the necessary provisions for setting up self-regulating codes of conducts guided by its principles. With regard to codes of conduct it must be emphasised that the development of such a code is anything but a sole task of industry and business. Governments must contribute to the development of appropriate codes not only in close co-operation with business but also with social interest groups including trade unions and consumer organisations, too. It is also necessary to support efforts to minimise the collection of personal data and to maximise their protection. 

Social Impacts, Costs and Benefits  

36. Efforts to provide the framework for successful technological change must take account of the interrelationship between society and technology. Effective promotion of technological change cannot be essentially about the adjustment of society and individuals, regardless whether at work or in the home, to change. Policies addressing only the economic integration of technological change will fail to achieve the aim of maximising both the economic and social benefits of electronic commerce and lead to an uneven distribution of costs and benefits. Governments, business and trade unions must act in favour of a socially acceptable transformation towards a digital economy. 

Weaving electronic commerce into organizational structures  

37. Many high-tech investments made in recent years have failed to fulfil accompanying expectations concerning both an increase of productivity and of revenues. The lesson to be learned from this experience is that to transform information technology into a powerful tool for productivity and competitiveness requires far-reaching organisational changes at the company level. 

38. This process is going to affect intermediaries in retail trade and employees carrying out noncore functions as well as the management and the employees of subcontracting firms. Changes in the structure of industry and business are leading to a destruction of jobs as well as to the creation of new jobs. Moreover, the impact of organisational change through electronic commerce on the systems of industrial relations goes along with new challenges for trade unions, management and employers associations. Against this background OECD countries cannot afford to miss out in the global stakes nor can they afford to weaken social cohesion in a rush for a rapid move into the digital economy for some, but not for all. 

39. Governments must develop employment and labour market policies to avoid the danger of a two tier society permanently divided between a high skilled part of the workforce enjoying the benefits of computerised technological change and those on the low end on the skill hierarchy struggling to make the ends meet. A prerequisite for that is a sufficient combination of adaptability and security. 

Combining adaptability and security 

40. The digital economy poses a policy challenge to the traditional organisation and institutions of the labour market and industrial relations, namely the need to develop new collective bargaining and work arrangements. There is a need to ensure giving more attention to achieving a meaningful job content and an acceptable work environment, to an increase in autonomy and responsibility related to job tasks as well as to a further development of skills. New work arrangements should also contribute to enlarged options of adaptability and flexibility in the interests of both the employees and companies. New forms of adaptability for firms must not bring with it insecurity of employment, working conditions and income for the employees. Moreover, to cope with new forms of adaptability it is necessary to establish new pay systems, reflecting enlarged job content, higher responsibility and flexibility. 

41. As shown by recent experience with the ongoing expansion of flexible working time, change leads to new burdens and organisational challenges for employees to reconcile work and family life. This leads to an increase in the part of time-use, which is related to work. Information technologies and digital networks certainly will facilitate to cope with increased challenges of flexitime employment to organise everyday life within partnerships and families. But at the same time the amount of time available for the gathering information from networks, for communication and for the consumption of digitally offered services will be reduced. This might hinder the development of multimedia and electronic commerce. 

42. In reconciling obligations of family and working life, special attention must be given to telework. Trade unions call for an update of regulatory systems of both social security and industrial relations so that they encompass teleworkers and the broad variety of telework. Therefore, collective agreements must be extended to telework and teleworkers must be given the right to join a trade union and to be included in the protection given by unions. With regard to the ongoing separation between the location of companies and the site of work, trade unions must be given the right to make also use of company based digital networks (intranets) for the purpose of communicating with members and to ensure solidarity at work. 

Preparing a social global level playing field  

43. With regard to the process of globalisation, trade unions are concerned that most international policy attention related to electronic commerce has focused on liberalisation of markets for information technology based products and services as well as on ensuring competition. Little attention was given to establishing, and enforcing a set of common social standards. This must be overcome. 

44. Boundless digital networks bring about new opportunities to de-localise manufacturing and service activities, to avoid tax and social cost. But avoiding taxes and contributions to social security systems has nothing to do with comparative advantage. Instead, it strengthens the risk of a downward adjustment in social welfare, working conditions and standards of living. To reduce the risk of “a race to the bottom” it is necessary to ensure the adherence to minimum social rules like the ILO's seven core conventions to the emerging global information society. It is also essential to extend competition to avoid harmful tax competition. 


45. Further efforts to extend the Global Information Infrastructure must go hand in hand with an effective public policy response on a wide range of issues. This must include efforts to:- 

- create the necessary regulatory framework (provision of affordable access for consumers, protection of privacy, provision of pluralism, ensure appropriate and inoffensive contents, protection of copyright and intellectual property rights, security of transactions, a sure and stable contractual basis, regulation of electronic payments, interconnectivity and operability); 

- promote the socially acceptable transformation towards a more information based economy (information and sensibilization, support of SME's, promotion of organisational changes, education and training, documentation of best practice examples); 

- avoid electronic commerce undermining the tax base as well as efforts to promote electronic access to public administration (including the stimulation of electronic procurement). 

46. There is an urgent need for public debate on these issues and broaden the current policy dialogue. Despite ongoing work and a broad range of programmes and projects, there is a lack of awareness concerning the role of actors, especially of unions and consumer organisations. So far the debate has solely been driven by short-term business concerns. Rarely addressed are the challenges concerning employment, work and training coming from an emerging global information economy. The same holds true for the changing nature of organisations and work and their impact on the development of human resources. 

These issues must be addressed more in detail in the follow up of the OECD Ottawa Ministerial conference on electronic commerce. 


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