Interoperability in a Globalized Economy

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on March 25, 2013


Following up on their 2012 book, “Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems,” John Palfrey and Urs Gasser of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society released a three-party study to gain a deeper understanding of the role interoperability plays as an enabler of innovation and creativity in international trade. To address this, the authors examine the following:

  • To what extent interoperability has contributed to the promotion of international trade;
  • What respective roles international organizations have played in concert with other stakeholders with regard to interoperability and international trade;
  • What policies and approaches to supporting interoperability have been used, and with what results; and
  • What can be learned from these experiences with regard to emerging interoperability issues in the context of international trade?

Each study explores the various institutions, policies and approaches that shape the interoperability landscape and investigates the effects of these factors and drivers on trade in the globalized economy. In the first study, “Fostering Innovation and Trade in the Global Information Society: The Different Facets and Roles of Interoperability,” Palfrey and Gasser argue that makers of public policy should craft national policies and legal frameworks that encourage higher levels of interoperability among information and communication technology (ICT) relevant systems, applications and components. Further, they argue that policymakers should also aim for legal and, eventually, policy interoperability.

The second study, “Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observations from Practice,” focuses specifically on interoperability in the cloud. Palfrey and Gasser seek to introduce cloud interoperability as a policy topic relevant against the backdrop of an emerging theory of interoperability, as well as highlight the issues that are implied and amplified within a cloud computing ecosystem.

The third paper centers on the role, current debates and associated benefits and challenges in developing a system of interoperability for information and information systems in the global economy over time. In the study, “Interoperability in Information and Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade,” the authors argue that despite the benefits to be gained from high levels of interoperability in information and information-related systems, there are barriers to adoption and new problems that must be tackled.



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