Eva Hagsten ver doktorsritgerð sína í hagfræði | Háskóli Íslands Skip to main content

Eva Hagsten ver doktorsritgerð sína í hagfræði

4. desember 2017

Eva Hagsten ver doktorsritgerð sína: „Ýmis gervi upplýsingatækni í frammistöðumælingum fyrirtækja í Evrópu“
“The various guises of ICT in firm performance across Europe”

Andmælendur eru Mary O‘Mahony prófessor við King‘s College London og Sverre A. C. Kittelsen forstöðumaður Frischsenter í Osló.

Leiðbeinandi er Dr. Helgi Tómasson prófessor í hagrannsóknum og tölfræði við Félagsvísindasvið Háskóla Íslands. Í doktorsnefnd sátu auk hans Dr. Þórólfur Matthíasson prófessor í hagfræði við Félagsvísindasvið Háskóla Íslands og Dr. Martin Falk hjá Austrian Institute of Economic Research.

Dr. Ásgeir Jónsson deildarforseti Hagfræðideildar stjórnar athöfninni.

Upplýsinga- og samskiptatækni (UST) gegnir enn mikilvægu hlutverki í starfi fyrirtækja innan Evrópu. Hins vegar er munur á hversu reiðubúin fyrirtæki eru til að nýta sér og innleiða hraða þróun tækninnar sem gefur til kynna að birtingarmyndir UST eru mismunandi þegar kemur að frammistöðumælingum.Þetta kemur fram í niðurstöðum doktorsrannsóknar Evu Hagsten.

Doktorsvörn Evu fer fram 4. desember, kl. 14.00 í Hátíðasal Háskóla Íslands og er öllum opin.

Í nútímahagkerfi hefur UST áhrif á flest svið einka- og viðskiptalífs. Hins vegar er ekki skýrt hvernig fyrirtæki velja að nota tæknina eða hvernig þau njóta góðs af henni. Sérstaklega er alþjóðlegur samanburður erfiður og varasamur. Fræðimenn hafa átt erfitt með að finna haldgóðar vísbendingar um hvernig greina megi jákvæð áhrif fjárfestinga í UST. Hluti af skýringunni er hugsanlega skortur á gögnum eða vegna lélegra gagna. Síðar hafa lausnir á vandamálum þessu tengdu verið fundnar með því að skoða frammistöðumælikvarða fyrirtækja í einstökum atvinnugreinum í einstökum löndum.

Opinber gögn eins og þau eru birt hjá evrópskum hagstofum henta ekki vel í alþjóðlegum samanburði. Rannsóknir Evu byggðu á að vinna sérhæfða samanburðarhæfa gagnagrunna upp úr opinberum hagstofugögnum. Ályktanir eru byggðar á sérhæfðum tölfræðilíkönum.

Eva Hagsten er með bakkalárpóf í hagfræði og tölfræði og meistarapróf í hagfræði frá Örebro háskóla. Eva er með mikla reynslu af greiningavinnu, m.a. fyrir hinar ýmsu rannsóknarstofnanir, Framkvæmdastjórn Evrópusambandsins og Efnahags og framfarastofnun Evrópu (OECD)

Athöfnin er öllum opin

Nánari upplýsingar í meðfylgjandi útdrætti ritgerðar á ensku.

ICT still important for firm performance across Europe

ICT is still important for firm performance across a large group of European countries, although variations in readiness and its strong development over time may imply that it appears in different guises. This is one of the major results from research carried out by Eva Hagsten for her doctoral degree in economics. She is publicly defending her thesis titled “The various guises of ICT in firm performance across Europe”, at the University of Iceland on Monday 4th of December 2017. 

These days, ICT affects most spheres of private as well as business life. Despite this, Eva Hagsten explains that it is not fully clear how firms choose to use or how they benefit from ICT, especially not in an international comparison. Initially, scholars had problems to find indications of positive impacts of ICT investments, possibly partly related to data deficits. Some of these issues have later been addressed, allowing a flow of evidence on the importance of ICT for firm performance, mainly based on single-country and single-industry analyses. 

In her thesis, Eva Hagsten makes an attempt to fill some of the research gaps relating to ICT in firms, by introducing novel variables and fuller industry coverage in an international setting. She carefully testifies that her research has benefitted immensely from the opportunity to use linked firm- and intermediate-level data made available within a sequel of large EU-financed projects. The thesis encompasses five separate chapters that pays particular attention to ICT adoption and ICT skills in relation to firm performance measured as productivity, exports or online sales. 

A comparison across the 14 European countries included in the study shows a systematic variation in ICT usage across Europe. In this context, ICT usage encompasses websites, broadband connectivity in firms and systems for online sales, for instance. In 2010, firms in countries to the North and to the West are more intensive ICT users than those to the East and to the South. This dimension also holds for productivity in firms. The analytical results, based on regression analysis, reveal that these differences may also play a role in how advantageous ICT is for firm performance. 

Employees with higher ICT education or with broadband internet connections are found to coincide with good firm performance. In addition, different ICT usages, for instance the existence of a website, are important factors in the decision of a firm to enter the exports market. Those firms who are low in ICT usage have a larger potential to gain in performance from an ICT upgrade. There is also an indication of a connection between the extent to which firms engage in online sales and their performance and their decision to sell their products or services online could be facilitated by their underlying ICT infrastructure. 

As compared with existing research, Eva Hagsten concludes that her studies do not contradict earlier findings, although the large and detailed dataset at hand allows more nuanced insights into firm behaviour related to performance and ICT. Specific attention to industry, country and size-class reveals that firms in certain industries may be specifically dependent on attracting the right skills, manufacturing, for instance, while service firms have a larger capacity to make use of high generally skills. Further, the service industry and small firms have the most to gain from increases in online sales activities, while the extent of online sales is partly related to the ICT infrastructure in firms. This is particularly important for manufacturing firms and large firms, that is, those who are already most commonly selling online.

Eva Hagsten once again stresses the importance of the access to large international datasets for her thesis. The project within which the datasets were built up aimed at filling some data gaps and improve the opportunities to analyse the relationship between ICT and firm behaviour across countries, based on official statistics, linked at the level of the firm. Included in the linking process were for instance data from registers on business, trade and education as well as information from surveys on ICT usage and innovation activities in firms. The use of available official statistics means that the data hold a certain quality and is representative. By secondary usage of already collected data, no additional response burden is imposed on firms. Instead, the burden falls on the statistician, who needs to engage in work on linking of different firm-level datasets, harmonising the variables to international comparability and in certain cases aggregate the data to avoid issues of disclosure. The gains from the initial burdens imposed on the statistician are large, making available novel and harmonised data across countries for research purposes. 

Unfortunately, Iceland was the only Nordic country that was not able to take part in the large EU-project, and thus could also not be included in the research for the thesis. However, Eva Hagsten emphasises that this leaves an opening for future research on ICT and firm performance in Iceland. The specific geographic location and industry structure may imply that possible benefits from ICT appear in different guises than in mainland Europe. This kind of research would be facilitated by for instance remote access to firm-level data held at Statistics Iceland. There are also opportunities to apply for international support for such a project, from for instance the Horizon 2020 funds. 

Eva Hagsten holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and statistics as well as a master’s degree in economics from Örebro University. She has extensive experience of analytical work on international projects for the European Commission and the OECD, as well as from university and research institutes. Her work experience also includes positions as an analyst for the Government Offices, the House of Parliament, Statistics Sweden and more recently the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, in Sweden.

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