Social and ethical aspects connected with e-space development

Janusz Wielki


The development of the Internet and its interest as a business platform, caused deep changes in the conditions, functioning and competing of organizations at the end of the twentieth century. The global character of the Internet and its open character as well as the availability of numerous, internet technology-based, easy to use tools that allow for simple navigation through this global network and access to the diverse resources available were undoubtedly the key elements of its rapid success. It meant that utilization of the Internet provided organizations with numerous, previously unknown, opportunities with regard to new business models, ways of functioning and reaching their customers.

Hence, most of the analysis to date of the impact of the Internet on the functioning of organizations has been focused on the possible ways to operate in this global computer network, the utilization of Internet technology-based tools and its impact on individual elements of the task environment as well as on the sectors generally in which they operate.

Because of this, most of the analysis is first and foremost devoted to ways of operating in new conditions and utilizing new business models, the impact of the Internet environment on behavior and attitudes of consumers, issues connected with barriers of entry and the possibilities of new competitors appearing or establishing new kinds of business relations.

But there is another, and it would seem increasingly more important, dimension of the Internet’s impact on the functioning of contemporary organizations. Namely, its global and open character has meant that around the Internet (understood in a purely technical way as a global network infrastructure allowing for the easy communication of computers and exchange of data) mobile infrastructure has emerged and has been continuously developing a very complex, extremely dynamic and not entirely predictable e-space. An e-space in which not only a company’s suppliers, competitors, and increasingly powerful customers operate, but where various substitute products or services start to emerge, and where new entrants can start conducting their business activities easier than elsewhere.

In fact with the “crystallization” of the e-economy, it has become increasingly clear to see that e-space is also an area where numerous, hard to identify and “capture” entities operate, realizing their own different goals and exerting more and more influenced on the functioning of an organization. As a result, understanding the manners of their influence is crucial for contemporary organizations in the context of their increasing involvement in the utilization of the Internet as a significant business platform.

The paper is composed of four parts. In the first part an overview of the situation connected with the Internet (and mobile infrastructure) development and the consequences of this process is briefly provided.

The second part is focused on defining of e-space and separating its core components. Two basic sub-spaces forming it has been identified and characterized there. They include:

  • Internet-space (with its most important part Web-space),
  • m-space (mobile-space).

The following part forms the core of this paper. First, three basic groups of entities operating in e-space has been isolated and characterized. They include:

  • a group of known and identifiable entities operating in cyberspace, affecting an organization,
  • a group of identifiable and unidentifiable entities operating in cyberspace, neutral from the point of view of an organization,
  • group of unknown and/or difficult to identify entities operating in cyberspace, affecting an organization in a real way.

Next the taxonomy of the impact of entities belonging to each of mentioned above groups is presented, analyzed and discussed. It is hypothesized that there are two basic forms of influence i.e. direct and indirect. It is also hypothesized that in case both of them there can be identified four types of the impact. They include:

  • “physical” impact of entities operating in e-space aimed at tangible assets of organizations,
  • “physical” impact of entities operating in e-space aimed at intangible assets of organizations,
  • “non-physical” impact of entities operating in e-space aimed at tangible assets of organizations,
  • “non-physical” impact of entities operating in e-space aimed at intangible assets of organizations.

Above mentioned types of influence are defined and discussed. In all cases special attention is concentrated on social and ethical challenges and implications connected with e-space development and the impact of entities operating them on organizations All these issues are supported by numerous examples from various sectors.

In the final part of the paper, the most significant conclusions and suggestions are offered.