The production and distribution of information commodities now represent the predominant economic activities in Australia. The emergence of an information economy is reflected, inter alia, in the growing proportion of total labour effort involved in information tasks. The informatization of the Australian economy, the centrality of information industries and the peculiar nature of pure information require a revised prognosis of the Australian economy. The "quaternary" or information sector in Australia holds the key to the solution of various intractable economic problems: the need for structural change to cope with accentuating comparative disadvantage in certain industries; the need for a substitute leading sector as the Japanese mineral export boom peters out; and the need for a long term programme for the alleviation of inflation and recession. The transition to an information society also has social and political repercussions impinging on human rights and civil liberties, necessitating a revised national policy perspective. This study focuses attention mainly upon the construction of a sound empirical base to superstructure an economic policy framework to deal with the problems of the Australian economy as it moves into an information age.
The theoretical basis for the analysis of information activities draws on the seminal works in information economics. However, the empirical work is mainly my contribution and it is inspired by tho study of Porat to a certain extent. This is the, only other empirical work of its kind to date. The information sector approach to the study is justified by the magnitude of the sector and by its widespread impact on other integral components of the Australian economic system.
The I-O matrix compiled for the primary information sector, which is comprised of' all marketed information commodities, facilitated the quantification of the sectoral level structural and impact analyses. A modified triangularization technique was applied to explore the inter-sectoral dependence within the primary information sector. The accounting equations of the Leontief I-O model were utilized in order to analyse the sensitivity of the information economy to changes in projected final demand, output and income. In this connection Type I and Type II income multipliers were also
The role of the primary information sector in the national macro-economic structure was also probed. The triangularization technique was invoked to calculate the inter-sectoral structural relationships in the national economy. Output, income and employment multipliers were calculated and demand-output projections were also made in order to appraise the impacts of sectoral demand changes on the Australian economy.
This study isolates a Secondary Information Sector (SIS) which is comprised of conceptual “quasifirms” producing non-marketed information outputs that are analagous to those of the primary information sector. The SIS for Australia has previously remained unquantified. Thus I have incorporated it in a tri-sector national I-O model. This permits a preliminary analysis of the structural inter-relationships of the secondary information sector in the Australian economy. The opportunity to undertake an in-depth quantitative intrasectoral I-O analysis of the secondary information sector is emasculated by the paucity of relevant data and by conceptual problems associated with the allocation of costs among the various secondary information activities. Therefore, a qualitative analysis of the sector was pursued. This provides guidelines for the more effective performance of the sector in facilitating the operation of the public and private bureaucracies.
A further aspect of the information generation process associated with the informatization of the Australian economy is the derivative technology acquired as a result of direct investment in Australian industries by Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). This information transfer process affects the performance of the Australian information sectors in terms of productive, allocative and "dynamic" efficiency and limits the scope for indigenous information production growth. This study examines the informational impacts of MNE involvement in Australian industries and provides some policy guidelines for the control of MNE entry and behaviour. This would ensure the optimal development of the Australian primary and secondary information sectors and the most orderly and fruitful transition into the information age.
Overall, the study demonstrates the feasibility of undertaking an empirical sectoral analysis of the Australian information economy in terms of primary and secondary information sectors. Furthermore, it suggests the importance of a more finely tuned analysis of the structure and role of the emergent Australian economy and the influence of international information sources upon its development.