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Ebusiness barriers to growth within the SME sector

Paul Jones (Coleg Sir Gar, Wales, UK)
Dr Paul Beynon‐Davies (University of Wales, Swansea, Wales, UK)
Dr Elizabeth Muir (University of Glamorgan, Wales, UK)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 1 June 2003


The development of Ecommerce within Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Wales is restricted by a number of barriers. Various projects initiated by government and academic bodies exist to assist SMEs overcome these barriers. However, whether these projects represent the needs of SMEs is debatable. The opportunity for SMEs to exploit information communication technology has increased due to the improved affordability and sophistication of computing equipment, along with the development and utilisation of the Internet. This progress has seen the emergence of Ebusiness and Ecommerce, whereby SMEs can operate, communicate and trade in global markets. Recent surveys by academia, government and trade bodies have identified Wales as the worst performing region for Ebusiness in the UK with sceptical attitudes towards its increased adoption. This paper reports on a quantitative study investigating Ebusiness utilisation within SMEs in Wales. Specifically this paper focuses on the key barriers influencing the adoption of Ebusiness within SMEs in Wales. The survey of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce (CCC) membership was undertaken in 2001. The CCC is a trade body of approximately 1000 SMEs encompassing a geographical area covering Cardiff, Bridgend, Newport and the Valleys areas. The postal survey and telephone follow up achieved a response rate of 100 SME classified enterprises, a response rate of approximately 10%. Academic research has identified these barriers as deficiencies in financial resources, time, information and skills; concerns over security, legal issues and competition and doubts over the applicability of Ebusiness to their business practices and cultural and infrastructure issues. These barriers are a major influence as to how Ebusiness will develop within SMEs and this paper identifies the significance of each factor in constraining growth. The paper concludes by investigating the assistance for SMEs from academia, government and trade to develop Ebusiness activities and questioning whether these are representative and effective mechanisms for this sector. This paper contributes to knowledge by appraising and contrasting existing barriers to Ebusiness literature and comparing it with the relevant SOGM literature. Secondly it classifies barriers in two ways by type and time of occurrence. Finally the paper recognises that the support mechanisms for Ebusiness within SMEs remain unproven and require further investigation to verify their effectiveness.



Jones, P., Beynon‐Davies, P. and Muir, E. (2003), "Ebusiness barriers to growth within the SME sector", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 7 No. 1/2, pp. 1-25.




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