AbstractThis thesis examined the usage of E-Business technologies in the SME sector in a regional context, with particular reference to the "Sole Proprietor" micro-sized grouping. The ongoing interest within the academic community and policy makers could be attributed to the belief that such enterprises would grow and become cornerstones of economic prosperity and wealth creation. The SME community however, particularly the micro-sized classified enterprises have remained characterised by high closure rates. The emergence of E-Business and E-Commerce activity through the popularisation of the Internet and increased availability of affordable information technology was seen as a potential enabling mechanism to improve business productivity and economic prosperity.
To enable this transformation, the use of E-Business was mooted by policy makers, trade groups, enterprise support agencies and academia as a panacea through which enterprises could become increasingly efficient, effective and potentially revolutionalise the business model. An initial investigation of the extant literature revealed that E-Business utilisation levels in Wales SME community was poor in comparison to other UK regions, with low levels of basic technologies and minimal uptake of sophisticated technologies.
The study encompassed a two-stage methodology involving both quantitative and qualitative methods. A quantitative survey was conducted throughout Wales and 500 respondents recorded. In addition, ten in-depth longitudinal case studies of "Sole-Proprietor" micro-sized SME classified enterprises was undertaken over an eighteen-month period.
The survey and case study findings revealed a lack of uptake of sophisticated E-Business technologies within the SME sector. This was particularly prevalent within the "Sole-Proprietor" SME micro-sized classification, the Owner/Managers therein were revealed to lack understanding and knowledge of the E-Business function. Indeed, the attitudes and perceptions of the Owner/Manager regarding E-Business were found to be of critical importance in the utilisation of technology within individual SMEs. However, there was a lack of Owner/Manager evaluation and strategic implementation of E-Business, resulting in stories of unfulfilled exploitation with minimal impact on the enterprise and resultant disenchantment.
The study proposed a framework to represent the reality of E-Business usage within the SME "Sole-Proprietor" sector. The framework identified the central importance of the Owner/Manager of the "Sole Proprietor" micro-sized SME in the adoption and utilisation of E Business and the influence and impact of both external and internal determinants.
The thesis contributed to the literature by identifying that "Sole Proprietor" SME Owner/Managers were motivated predominantly by maintaining operational sustainability, as opposed to actively pursuing growth through increased technology deployment. The study drew significant comparisons with the TAM, in the specific context of the micro-sized SME sector, in that the usage and further adoption of sophisticated levels of E-Business would only readily occur if the technology become widely available, was usable and affordable and its usage resulted in immediately attainable benefits to the enterprise.
The study concluded that it was essential that government policy makers, academia, trade groups and the private sector involved with encouraging E-Business usage recognised the need for cooperation and coordinated long term strategic planning to ensure E-Business usage within Wales becomes the norm rather than the exception.
|Date of Award
|Gary Packham (Supervisor)
- Internet marketing
- Electronic commerce