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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jane E. Fountain

Second Advisor

Eric S. Einhorn

Third Advisor

Charles M. Schweik

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics


This dissertation investigates how institutional frameworks and entrepreneurial discovery processes condition internet diffusion. While internet and internet-based technologies have received considerable scholarly attention, the dissertation emphasizes tacit elements in understanding internet diffusion. In order to do so, it incorporates perspectives on insttitutional complexity stemming from interactions of formal and informal institutions and different institutional logics. Empiral part consists both macro level comparisons of Estonia and Slovenia as well as micro level analysis of internet diffusion processes within Estonia.

Estonia and Slovenia are selected for comparison because of considerable variance in insitutional frameworks. At the same time, both countries are relatively small and members of the European Union. This allows to focus on specific institutional configurations and path-dependencies in constraining and enabling the diffusion of internet. I find that internet is diffused more extensively and intensively in Estonia. Different socio-economic groups use more sophisticated online services in Estonia than in Slovenia. Once specific institutional configurations in general and in the telecom sector in particular are considered then it emerges that insitutional frameworks in Estonia have been more facilitative of entrepreneurial discovery processes over time. As a result, supply and demand for innovative online services in Estonia is greater than in Slovenia.

After comparative perspective on two countries, the dissertation proceeds to analyze specific cases of online initiatives in Estonia such as internet banking and internet voting. Examination of outcomes shows how some of these initiatives have been successful and created reasons for adoption and use of internet on the individual level leading to a greater diffusion on macro level. My analysis demonstrates that positive outcomes have often been unintended result of experimentation through the process of entrepreneurial discovery within the context of institutions and path-dependencies. Evidence for this finding is bolstered by study of heterogeneous cases of various ICT initiatives. By emphazing institutional complexity and policy heterogeneity, the dissertation illuminates and explains the tacit nature of internet diffusion in a specific context of Estonia. This implies that Estonia has followed a unique developmental trajectory which cannot be generalized and transferred to other countries.