Looking beyond official success measures: tales from the field of the complex forces shaping Luxembourg’s ICT ecosystem

Nico Binsfeld, Jason Whalley, Lee Pugalis


Information and communication technologies (ICT) are increasingly becoming an important component of economic development. Luxembourg’s ICT sector is usually characterized as performing admirably - it is often at the top-end of different indices and international league tables. Nevertheless, headline statistics and high-level assessments often disguise the complexities of dynamic relations.

Ecosystems are one way of understanding complex interactions and relationships. It is in this respect that this paper deploys the concept of ecosystems to investigate Luxembourg’s ICT sector. The layered ecosystem model, devised by Martin Fransman, was utilized to map key actors that comprise Luxembourg’s ICT ecosystem, following which a program of unstructured interviews were conducted. This empirical material, combined with documentary analysis, provides the basis for an analysis of the interrelated elements that are shaping the development of Luxembourg’s ICT ecosystem.

The study has identified the main forces that affect the ICT ecosystem and concluded that Luxembourg’s strengths are related to its well-developed ICT infrastructures such as international fiber and national ultra-high broadband connectivity and high quality datacenters and its political vision for ICT that has led to a supportive policy environment. Its main weaknesses are related to an inappropriate educational system in which technical and scientific training is less developed, missing e-skills such as coding, application development, technical IT know-how as well a non-entrepreneurial mind-set and a risk averse culture.

The paper highlights the importance of the different socio-economic, political, strategic and technological forces that shape the ICT ecosystem of a small country in order to provide a comprehensive basis for its policy makers. An empirical focus on a small country helps to redress the research imbalance, whereby small countries are often overlooked by scholars. Nevertheless, we contend that such “smallness” engenders a unique opportunity for research engagement with a majority of primary actors in ecosystems, which might be unfeasible in larger countries. 


ICT ecosystems, Luxembourg, qualitative analysis

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© FEUP EdiçõesThe International Journal on Multidisciplinary Approaches on InnovationISSN 2183-0606