Sunday , October 1 2023

Achieving Sustainable Competitive Advantage of
Romanian Rural Area by Integrating Information
Technologies: an Interdisciplinary Approach

Răzvan Sorin ŞERBU, Sorin BORZA
“Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu
10, Calea Dumbrăvii, Sibiu, 550024, Romania,

Abstract: The Information and Communication Technologies and digital economy are the key factors in the recovery of the EU economy and especially the Romanian economy. Based on its strengths in technology and knowledge, Europe should exploit the full potential of the digital economy. The digital economy and information technologies offer great opportunities for SMEs in the manufacturing and service sectors. Therefore, an ambitious Digital Agenda, providing concrete steps to complete the online single market will be a key to sustainable economic recovery and social development of Europe. The competitive advantage of each country will play an important role in sustaining its future prosperity. Information technologies offer new ways of enhancing sustainable development not only in urban areas but also, to an even greater extent, in rural areas throughout the world. The understanding of what makes them a success or failure, and how much impact they may have in contributing to the wider rural economy is still relatively poorly developed. What is clear, from a wider European perspective, is that these new forms of e-agriculture with ecological entrepreneurialism are growing at a relatively fast rate This paper presents multi-criteria AHP method, (Analytic Hierarchy Process) to assess main technological factors that affect the introduction of new technologies in rural areas.

Keywords: E-agriculture, digital economy, eco-bio-economy, competitiveness multicriterial.

>>Full text
Răzvan Sorin ŞERBU, Sorin BORZA, Achieving Sustainable Competitive Advantage of Romanian Rural Area by Integrating Information Technologies: an Interdisciplinary Approach, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 23 (2), pp. 215-222, 2014.

  1. Introduction


Given the potential for additional growth this represents, a more thriving EU services sector which is a priority for the European Commission, as services are regarded as the driving force of the EU economy and statistics show that around nine out of ten new jobs are created in this sector. As identified in the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey, the EU will only meet its ambitious Europe 2020 targets for sustainable and inclusive growth if urgent structural reforms are prioritized in services and product markets to improve the business environment [1].

eEurope, eEurope+ (plan dedicated to countries in the adhesion process – before the enlargement of the European Union), eEurope 2005, i2010, i2020 Strategy action plans have represented major measures in developing the IT&C infrastructure in Europe, citizen education, developing the ability to use new technologies, launching new concepts meant to contribute in the development of the European economic society: e-Government, e-Health, e-Learning, e-Inclusion, etc.) [2].

We are focusing here on opportunities for a sustainable development and grow in competitiveness in rural area of nowadays, based on the implication of digital economy and Information and Communication Technologies initiatives in rural sector, presenting and discussing latest research and suggesting new ideas, solutions and methods for sustainable producing food, natural resource management, building resilient agricultural systems and farming systems from a bio-eco-economic perspective.

In this tough time of financial and economic crises, the potential of rural area should be more and more shifted into consideration. The timeliness that is going to be recorded for integrating the information technologies into the rural area will create a competitive advantage. This can make the difference between nations and one can gain advantage against the others world’s best competitors.

National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insist. A nation‘s competitiveness depends on the capacity to innovate and upgrade [3].

Following the dynamism of nowadays we consider an essential condition for harmony the possibility for economic discipline to enlarge its sphere of investigation. In this order, besides the current preoccupation with mathematic models and statistical analysis it should take care of the great importance but too little analysed so far such as anthropology, morale and eco and bio economy.

The last decades have called the public attention and decision makers towards a new dimension, the ecological one. By minimizing the consequences of our actions the way man has behaved is being explained as well as the way he was supposed to be compared to the world he lives in and the other life forms he depends on, directly or indirectly through food or other needs.

Therefore as biological beings our activities directed towards the satisfaction of our own needs as being the only ones to be taken into consideration are justified even if they lead to self-destruction.


Eco Bio Economy can be considered an attempt for a new economic vision that reunites: economy, ecology, biodiversity, eco economy and bio economy and it is focused on the intelligent sustainable development of the world.

Recently in the international literature of specialty are more attempts to unite the two concepts in a new paradigm the ecoeconomy from Lester Brown and the bioeconomy from Georgescu Roegen.

Eco Bio Economy defined as such: it is an economy of the future is the life of people by using the environment resources rationally. (bios meaning “life” and “oikos” meaning “habitat” in Greek language). It can create “arenas and reflection spaces in specialist researchers and experts in different, domains but in some other domains insufficiently explored so far”. Eco Bio Economy can generate new directions to approach: Eco Bio Sanogenesis, Eco Bio Ethics, Eco Bio Engineering and new conceptual directions: Eco Bio Projects and Eco Bio Concepts [4].

The Eco Bio Vision of Economy is to develop the welfare of the mankind under all forms in a sustainable way through an economy of the future for people’s life by using the environment resources rationally. Eco Bio Economy is a scientific attempt; an economic and philosophic one dedicated to the development of environmental interpreted health, of the welfare of humanity through a concept that is multipolar interpreted and promotes the Agrifood Green Power and Smart Sustainable Integrated Development of future [5]. All of this can be and should be integrated with the new wave of digital economy.

Paul Hawken in his paper “Blessed Unrest” comes to the conclusion “Now we steal our future by selling it and by calling it G.D.P.” We could have an economy of improvement for the future instead of stealing. One is called reconstruction the other manoeuvre [6]. This new e-economy, that anyone is expected, it will work only if we will understand the importance of right integration of digital economy in all sectors of life, and we are referring in these lines especially to agricultural aspect.

The mobile phone is being used mostly in the rural area (86%) than in the urban one (77%) in order to keep in touch with those who are abroad and the age of those who useit are under 60 years old. Approximately ¾ of the Romanians are using this service and 80% of the clients currently use a single SIM.GfK Romania made a study on the habits to use the internet in Romania along a period of two years – 2010 to 2012. The results point out that the incidence with persons aged 15 and more was of 48.7% in 2012, increasing with 8.4% as compared to 2010.

The rate of entering in households regarding retransmission services increases with 4 % to 85,1%, and the rate through cable networks arrives at 53,6%.

At the end of the year 2012, 61% of the subscribers lived in the urban area. According to the retransmission 80% of the users in the urban area are subscribers for the cable while 63% of the users in the rural area are subscribers for satellite networks of DTH type.

The number of the subscribers for cable networks increased with 6,4% to 3,8 mil. Of which the number of those who have access to such services of digital format registered an increase with 40 to 1,24 million subscribers.

Therefore, the share of the number of subscribers through digital networks within the total number of subscribers through cable was of almost 33% at the end of 2012.

Retransmission services of programs in a digital format continued to increase in 2012 and the subscribers for such services are increasing according to ANCOM.

Of six million subscribers to retransmission services, 3,4 million are being subscribed for services in a digital format, increasing with 13,4% as compared to 2011.

Of the number subscribers for services in a digital format 63%, is being held by the subscribers though satellite (DTH) but, in genuine figures, the increase in 2012 was registered by the cable subscribers in a digital format. After the decrease registered in 2011 the number of DTH subscribers increased last year with 2% to 2,19 mil. subscribers, and those through the IP(IPTV) technology increased with 34% for 37.000 subscribers.

AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process)

Multicriterial evaluation in new technologies is used in cases where there are several alternatives, variations, locations or processes. The common result of multicriterial evaluation methods is a dimensionless number that indicates the degree of new technologies load of alternatives that are evaluated. In addition to indicators that represent the new technologies impact it is possible to include indicators that have economic, social, and technological character. The paper describes one method of multicriteria analysis, analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Presented example gives application of multicriteria analysis in evaluating new technologies factors. Multicriteria analysis was conducted on six new technological factors: TV subscriptions, mobile phones number, fixed phone subscriptions number, Internet subscriptions. This method is used to determine which of the factors listed above is the most important in the impact of new technologies on rural areas[7].

Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used for decision making when a decision (choice of some of the available alternatives, or their ranking) is based on several attributes that represent criteria. Solving complex decision problems using AHP method is based on their decomposition in a hierarchical structure whose elements are goal (objective), criteria (sub-criteria) and alternatives. An important component of the AHP method is a mathematical model by which priorities of elements are calculated (weighted), for elements that are on the same level hierarchical structure [8]. AHP was successfully used in new technologies impact assessment for determining of weights for impact categories.

Summary of AHP method consists of converting subjective assessments to the relative importance of the criteria scores and weights. The method, developed by Saaty [9], proved to be the most common form of multi-criteria analysis. AHP input data are answers to questions such as “How important is criterion A relative to criterion B?”. This results are compared in pairs, resulting are in scores and weights. For each pair of criteria required comparing the importance of the two, associating a score as follows.

Application of AHP method can be explained in four steps:

  1. Setting a hierarchical model of decision problems in order with goal on the top criteria and subcriteria at lower levels, and alternatives at the bottom of the model.
  2. At each level of hierarchical structure each elements of the structure are compared in pairs, whereby the decision makers express their preferences with the help of appropriate scale which has 5 degrees and 4 sub-degrees of verbally described intensities and the corresponding numerical values for them in the range from 1 to 9.
  3. Local priorities (weights) of criteria, sub-criteria and alternatives at same hierarchical structure level are calculated through appropriate mathematical model and afterwards they are synthesized in total priorities of alternatives.

The rough decision matrix is normalized by taking the following actions:

  • calculation of sums of columns sj(k) , 1≤ j m which are written on an extra line;
  • division of each element dij(k) , 1≤ i, j m to the sums of its columnsj(k) ;
  • calculation of consequences (performances), as averages of elements on each line, which are written in an extra column

formula1_art10                                                                         (1)

Dividing each element and obtaining the normalized matrix:

Using the score column, the hierarchy of the decision alternatives is obtained: the decision means the selection of the alternative with the highest score.

4. Implementation of the sensitivity analysis for final decisions


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