ŠAVŠ/TAČR Digital Czechia in a Digital Europe
Foreword Modern economics very often poses the question of how to solve the so- called middle-income trap. This phenomenon, first described by Indermit Gill and Homi Kharas, indicates a situation in which a country’s economic growth is slowing significantly after reaching the middle-income threshold. This deceleration results in a “trap” that prevents the economy from further transforming and consequently moving up into the group of high-income countries. The common denominator among these types of economies has been the continuous effort to find a new model of economic growth. Yet the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which has long been concerned with this phenomenon, notes that no generally valid blueprint to solving the Middle-Income Trap has been found so far. However, the emerging concepts of digitalization and e-government, which are also associated with revolutionary concepts such as Industry 4.0, Dark Factories, Internet of Things, Health 4.0 or Smart Cities, could break the supposed middle-income trap. The indisputable advantage of digitalization technologies and e-government is also grounded in the fact that their effective implementation and use are in no way tied to the size of the economy. Therefore, even small and medium-sized countries can very easily establish themselves in these segments where they become pioneers on the world stage. The expected higher rate of economic growth is then presumed mainly through gains such as higher automation and optimization of production processes, easier user communication between the citizen and the state, a more successful fight against financial fraud, more efficient redistribution of social assistance, or higher state savings. Although the Czech Republic has significantly increased its efforts in the field of digitalization and e-government in recent years, it is still falling behind its European counterparts in many respects. This study was undertaken with the aim of creating a comprehensive set of recommendations based on current “best practices”, especially in other European countries. The basic point was to select such recommendations that best match the Czech social and economic milieu and thus have the potential to be effectively implemented. The introductory article by Jiřina Bokšová and Michal Bokša focuses on effective ways of digitalizing public administration and services. In doing so, it defines the optimal procedure for such digitalization and the conditions that should be created for effective e-government. At the same time, the authors identify areas that the public administration should avoid when introducing digitalization technologies.
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