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Investment in digital infrastructure: Why and for whom?

Webber, Don J; Hughes, Ellen; Pacheco, Gail; Parry, Glenn


Don J Webber

Ellen Hughes

Gail Pacheco

Glenn Parry


This study investigates the variation in attitudes across stakeholders towards investments in the digital economy. Using semi-structured interviews to identify attitudes about the spatially evolving socioeconomic importance of the digital economy in New Zealand, we identified seven distinct yet partially overlapping concerns that prioritise preferences for digital investment. A key finding is that there are important asymmetries in stakeholders' narratives and epistemological foundations that currently align to collectively strengthen resolve to invest in digital infrastructure and training, but this alignment may splinter in future. Some stakeholders saw internet access as coalescing social economy, and there were concerns that some people and some places would get left behind if access is not rolled out uniformly and as a priority. There were disagreements about who will prosper, who will get left behind, who should pay for upgrading digital skills, the extent that investments were connected with wellbeing and identity, whether fake news was significant, and the longevity of the impact of digital economy investments. This study contributes to theory by demonstrating that practically-relevant, socially-informed policy decisions can be underpinned by collective efforts that draw on heterogeneous narratives and multidimensional understandings. JEL classification: D83; L86; L96; O18; R58


Webber, D. J., Hughes, E., Pacheco, G., & Parry, G. (2022). Investment in digital infrastructure: Why and for whom?. REGION, 9(1), 147–163.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 9, 2022
Publication Date Jun 20, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 22, 2022
Journal REGION
Print ISSN 2409-5370
Electronic ISSN 2409-5370
Publisher European Regional Science Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 147–163
Series ISSN 2409-5370
Keywords Internet; Infrastructure; Wellbeing; Left behind; Places; People; Epistemology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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