Creating a knowledge-based economy (KBE), in the opinion of many experts, is the only effective strategy to improve the competitiveness of countries, regions, and companies in the global market (Cooke & Leydesdorff, 2006; Godin, 2006; Hanna, 2010, World Bank, 2009). The research results and achievements of developed countries confirm that the construction of KBE is associated with widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) (Rivard, Aubert & Patry 2004; Roztocki & Weistroffer, 2009a, 2009b; Tapscot & Williams, 2006). ICT is one of the most important pillars of a KBE, and very often the concept of KBE is equated with such terms as digital economy, network economy, and e-economy. The main beneficiaries of the KBE and ICT users are companies, public administration, and citizens at the same time. The use of ICT revolutionizes the way of conducting business, work, study, and concluding relationships.
The purpose of this study is an analysis of the ICT use, especially the Internet in the Silesian region, and particularly in the context of KBE development. We analyzed the use of ICT in relationships: citizen-administration, business-administration and citizen-business. 176 companies and 500 citizens participated in our study. Cross-sectional studies and questionnaires were used as a research tool. The research analysis was carried out by means of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for Windows.
Our research results may be helpful in decision-taking processes to improve the use of ICT by businesses, administrations, and citizens, in particular to improve their activities and to develop relationships between them.
Knowledge-Based Economy Essence and Attributes
The interest in knowledge as a factor for socio-economic development is not a new phenomenon. Knowledge has long been the subject of numerous studies. Its importance began to be noticed after the Second World War. Even before that, it had been noticed by the Nobel prizewinner in economics F.A. Hayek, who in his work Economics and Knowledge from 1937 and The use of Knowledge in Society from 1945 perceived the information as a commodity (Hayek, 1937, 1945). Relatively quickly the notion that the collection and dissemination of information create a new quality of the economy was shared by other researchers.
In 1963, T. Umesao introduced the term "information society", and in 1973 D. Bell introduced the concept of postindustrial society development. According to the authors the transition from an industrial to post-industrial economy meant primarily (Bell, 1973):
* the dominance of service sector in the economy;
* the fundamental importance of knowledge as a source of innovation;
* attitude towards the development of ICT;
* creating new "intellectual technology" as a basis for political and social decision-making;
* growing importance of professionals and researchers in the occupational structure.
Shortly, in an interesting way the socio-economic developments were described by A. Toffler (1980); metaphorically he compared them to three waves: agrarian, industrial, and postindustrial. In the last wave, the basic raw material is information, and the ability to process this information becomes an important skill.
Toffler forecasts were in line with what, several years later, P. Drucker suggested. The author of Post-Capitalist Society stated that the primary economic resources are no longer capital, natural resources, or manpower, but it is knowledge. The ruling groups are knowledge specialists and entrepreneurs who can use knowledge in practical activity (Drucker, 1993).
Five megatrends have been introduced by J. D. Skyrme (1999) to describe the features of the knowledge-based economy by assuming that information and knowledge pervade in all sectors of industry as well as in all new industries based around them. …