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Soft Factors in Global ICT Sector Development: Studies with Bangladeshi and Rwandan ICT Workers

dc.contributor.authorKano, Tsuyoshi
dc.description.abstractSome low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) aim to designate the information and communication technology (ICT) sector as a central pillar to expedite their economic development, and a key element of ICT sector development is to nurture capable ICT workers. Scholars and policymakers concerned with those ICT workers tend to focus on nurturing hard technical skills; however, there is increasing evidence that “soft factors”—less tangible elements that affect the performance and behavior of ICT workers—are just as important. In this dissertation, I investigated the importance of certain soft factors for the development of ICT professionals, and ultimately the entire ICT sector, in LMICs. I use mixed methods across four projects that consisted of interviews to derive hypotheses, surveys for socio-economic correlation analysis, and a field experiment to evaluate the impact of training. My research focused mainly on young ICT professionals from Bangladesh and Rwanda—LMICs that focus on the ICT industry—who had foundational training in ICT and who had the potential to be ICT leaders in their countries. It was known that international experience such as study abroad programs could have dramatic effects on professionals from LMICs, but little was known about the actual impact of such programs, or whether their impact could be gained through other means. This dissertation consists of four interrelated projects. Project 1 analyzed what group of university students majoring in ICT in Bangladesh was most likely to be interested in experiences abroad. I found that top-tier university students tended to prefer to work in high-income countries and others expected to remain in Bangladesh, and the desire to go abroad correlated with parental income, attendance at elite universities, gender, and the presence of role models abroad. Project 2 explored the reported strengths and challenges of Rwanda’s ICT sector. I found that (1) there are sincere and widely shared aspirations for ICT-led national development; (2) policy support for ICT entrepreneurship is successful at helping to start ICT-based businesses but not at maintaining them or helping them succeed; and (3) some challenges in higher education exist. Project 3 found a gap between the expectations that Rwandan had for studying abroad and the learning outcomes of their international experiences. Specifically, while the candidates expected to have knowledge-based growth (e.g., hard skills), the returnees identified experience-based growth and mindset changes as the main learning outcomes. Based on the findings in Project 3, Project 4 implemented an intervention to develop the soft factors for young ICT engineers in Bangladesh who were interested in working abroad. The results suggest that soft factors training for ICT human resources can have some positive effect on individuals’ adaptation to new environments when they started working, especially in a foreign country. This dissertation makes several new contributions. First, these findings support the critical role of experiences abroad in cementing soft factors among ICT workers, and point to these workers’ potential value in their home countries’ national ICT sector development. Second, it builds on the existing theory of brain circulation by opening an avenue of inquiry about the initial emigration required for brain circulation; indeed, it appears that there is much to be understood with respect to migration dynamics pre-diaspora. Third, I argue that leap-frogging into a robust ICT economy is unlikely but that ICT workers’ development can be accelerated.
dc.subjectSoft Factors in Global ICT Sector Development
dc.subjectStudies with Bangladeshi and Rwandan ICT Workers
dc.titleSoft Factors in Global ICT Sector Development: Studies with Bangladeshi and Rwandan ICT Workers
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantorUniversity of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeememberToyama, Kentaro
dc.contributor.committeememberMahalingam, Ramaswami
dc.contributor.committeememberPal, Joyojeet Kunal
dc.contributor.committeememberRosenblat, Tanya
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevelInformation and Library Science
dc.subject.hlbtoplevelSocial Sciences
dc.identifier.orcid0000-0003-3821-9326, Tsuyoshi; 0000-0003-3821-9326en_US
dc.owningcollnameDissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)

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