Choices and consequences: A cross-national evaluation of telecommunication policies in developing countries

Nikhil Sinha, University of Pennsylvania


Telecommunications are increasingly being recognized as critical strategic infrastructure for ensuring the success of national social and economic development plans and programs, improving international competitiveness and integrating domestic economies into the world economy. In an effort to overcome chronic deficiencies in telecommunication performance and distribution of services, many developing countries have been engaged in liberalizing their telecommunication sectors. Liberalization here referring to the movement away from the traditional state-owned monopoly structure and towards the introduction of privatization and competition. This study examines the consequences of these developments by analyzing telecommunication developments in 81 developing countries from 1977 to 1988. The study is in two parts. The first part is theoretical and (a) identifies the technological and economic forces driving change in the sector; (b) reviews the policy options available to developing countries; (c) critically discusses the arguments both for and against the introduction of competition and privatization in the sector; and (d) outlines the importance of governmental commitment to the growth of telecommunications. The second part is empirical and presents the findings of a cross-national longitudinal evaluation of the impact of changes in policies governing sector structure for the supply and manufacture of telecommunications equipment, facilities and services, as well as the impact of governmental commitment, on sector performance and distribution. The evaluation is conducted in the context of the economic factors which are thought to condition the relationship between telecommunication policies and outcomes. It finds that movement toward liberalization has had little independent impact on telecommunications sector performance, but is associated with adverse conditions of access to and availability of services. In contrast, governmental commitment to the growth of the sector is found to be positively related with improvements in both sector performance and distribution at all levels of national income and under different compositions of economic activity. The findings suggest that if sector growth and development are important national priorities then attention should be turned more toward stepping-up government investments rather than towards sector restructuring.

Subject Area

Mass media

Recommended Citation

Sinha, Nikhil, "Choices and consequences: A cross-national evaluation of telecommunication policies in developing countries" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9200391.