EXPORTING THROUGH E-COMMERCE: How Indian Exporters have harnessed the IT Revolution

This monograph looks at how Indian exporters of goods and services have used e-commerce to promote exports. Based partly on surveys and partly on interviews the study concludes that when it comes to garments Indian exporters have failed to use telecommunications to significantly boost exports. This failure is attributed to organisational failings (induced by regulations that reserve certain commodities for small scale industries) rather than the nature of the commodity or other commonly cited factors like credibility, trust et al. This is contrasted with the successful use by larger corporate bodies like ITC, of e-ventures designed to operate under conditions far more primitive than what garment exporters surveyed are used to and yet have proved far more successful. The study offers the view that the Digital Divide so often cited in the literature on IT is as much organisational as it is geographical in nature.

When it comes to export of services specifically of IT and IT enabled services, the study concludes that exporters of services have used the telecommunications revolution better because of the nature of goods exported; here telecommunications are not just a mode of delivering information, it is also a mode of supply delivery. The latter is an outcome of the telecommunications revolution that has made services hitherto non-tradable into tradable services. While shortcoming like the lack of skilled manpower and a correspondingly advanced IT hardware sector will probably see India ceding ground to economies like China, things will look better where IT enabled services especially BPOs are concerned. Here India's vast pool of educated manpower familiar with English ensures that India's cost advantages are considerable. Here the expansion of this sector may not be in doubt but of particular concern is the participation of Indian firms in this expansion. This study offers the view that, as in the previous case, organisational shortcomings of Indian firms fostered by archaic laws have ensured that they have lagged behind foreign firms in this field, which is technologically less advanced than the IT sector where Indian firms have the dominant presence.

  • In :
    CSH Occasional Paper N°9, Publication of the French Research Institutes in India, Rajdhani Art Press
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