When bits learn to walk don´t make them trip

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When bits learn to walk don´t make them trip

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Title: When bits learn to walk don´t make them trip
Technological innovation and the role of regulation by law in information systems research: The case of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Author: Ronzani, Daniel
Abstract: This paper-based thesis attempts to answer the question how the adoption and diffusion of RFID can be balanced successfully between technological innovation and regulation by law. To answer this question, an abductive reasoning perspective has been applied. The first premise of abduction includes four sets of observations presented in four articles; the second premise of abduction includes two hypothetical claims, and the third premise of abduction builds the case, i.e., concludes the thesis. As first step, the definitional framework is established. Ten theories of adoption and diffusion of technological innovation (TRA, TPB, MPCU, SCT, TAM, TAM2, C-TAM-TPB, IDT, PCI, and UTAUT) and their characteristics are investigated. They frame the technological viewpoint. Then, the reasons for regulation (public interest theory, private interest theory, and institutionalist theory) as well as the means of regulation (regulation by law, norms, market, and architecture) and their application are investigated. They frame the regulatory viewpoint. As second step, four observations are made that constitute the first premise of abduction based on the findings of four individual research articles referred to as the Database Article, Marketing Article, Modality Mix Article, and Survey Article: Database Article: This research article evaluates the strategic advantage of placing RFID databases in certain territorial and jurisdictional regions based on database regulation. The analysis of the database regulation by law in Europe and North America revealed that, based on the creativity, skill and judgement, and investment doctrine, they do not protect RFID data in databases. It is claimed that protection of RFID data in databases should be regulated by other means of regulation, for instance, by regulation by norms or architecture. Observation 1 stipulates: Despite the amount of data anticipated to be stored and the regulation by law in the different countries where RFID is adopted and diffused, the location of the databases containing RFID data does not seem to play an important role for the technological innovator. Marketing Article: This research article applies a legal use case for the technological innovations marketed by the industry as active RFID tags. The analysis of the RFID industry’s marketing efforts and the unfavourable regulation by law is possible, and likely. Adopting the broad legal interpretation of self-emitting devices (short-range devices) to RFID tags that need to transduce energy from an RFID reader (active RFID tags) might allow the search and seizure of transmitted RFID data without a warrant to be in line with the constitutional rights. It is claimed that within the RFID industry there should be more awareness of regulation by legislation and adjudication. Observation 2 stipulates: Extending the doctrinal definition of active RFID tags to include reader-independent and indiscriminate signalling might lead to unfavourable regulation by law. Modality Mix Article: This research article offers a reflection on how law must manage the evolution of technological innovation. The analysis of the Draft Recommendation (2008) by the European Commission shows that the focus on regulation by law is inappropriate for a manageable diffusion of RFID technology. An over-regulation of RFID technology by regulation by law is possible if the Draft Recommendation (2008) is implemented and comes into force. It is claimed that a more diverse set of modalities (regulation by norms, market, and architecture) is necessary to successfully regulate RFID technology. Observation 3 stipulates: The current adoption and diffusion of RFID technology do not seem to be following an appropriate mix of regulation. Survey Article: This research article provides a reverse perspective of current RFID issues by examining the RFID industry’s view of regulation by law and consumers. The analysis of the survey data of the RFID industry shows three shortcomings by the RFID industry in its engagement of legal experts, its knowledge of regulation by law for RFID subject-matter, and its information policy to the general public. It is claimed that the exchange between the RFID industry and the legal regulator needs to improve. Observation 4 stipulates: The interaction between, and consequently also the exchange of expert know-how and standpoints of, (i) the RFID industry and the legal regulator and (ii) the RFID industry and the consumers seem insufficient. As third step, two hypothetical claims are made as second premise of abduction based on a literature review of characteristics of adoption and diffusion of technological innovation in IS research, namely IT, EDI, and RFID. First, the research shows that in IS research there are only a few regulation-by-law characteristics (5 of 150 different characteristics). Thus, a first hypothetical claim is made that in IS research there is a lack of legal perspectives. Second, the research shows that in IS research there are even fewer characteristics of other regulatory means, such as for example, social norms, market or architecture. Thus a second hypothetical claim is made that in IS research there is a lack of diversity in regulation of technological innovation. Finally, a case is built as third premise of abduction. It seems possible to conclude that (i) based on observation 1 and hypothetical claim 2, increasing the diversity of regulation modalities might have a positive effect on the strategic management decisions for the location of RFID systems; (ii) based on observation 2 and hypothetical claim 1, increasing the legal perspective in IS research might have a positive effect on the RFID industry’s marketing strategy; (iii) based on observation 3 and hypothetical claim 2, a more thorough and precise review of essential regulation by law is necessary; and (iv) based on observation 4 and hypothetical claim 1, increasing the legal perspective in IS research might have a positive effect on the RFID industry’s awareness of the legal challenges and their consequences. It is suggested that the four cases (conclusions) built in this thesis provide a solid foundation for the following four hypotheses that can be further tested with additional empirical data: 1. Increasing the diversity of regulation modalities has a positive effect on the strategic management decisions for the deployment location of technological innovation. 2. Increasing the legal perspective in IS research has a positive effect on the marketing strategy for technological innovation. 3. Increasing the thoroughness and precision in the review of essential regulation by law has a positive effect on other regulatory tools for technological innovation. 4. Increasing the legal perspective in IS research has a positive effect on the industry’s awareness of the legal challenges and their consequences. Therefore, to prevent bits from falling once they have learned to walk, the legal perspective of regulation in IS research as well as the diverse implementation of regulation in IS research should probably be increased. Such an increase might augment the awareness for the potential of regulation in technological innovation, which, in turn, might foster the adoption and diffusion of RFID.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/7930
Date: 2009-10-22

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