Understanding ICT adoption in the small firm sector in Southern Africa

Knowledge Chinyanyu Mpofu (School of Applied Management and Law, Faculty of Design, Media and Management, Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK)
Lorraine Watkins‐Mathys (School of Applied Management and Law, Faculty of Design, Media and Management, Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Publication date: 3 May 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine information and communications technology (ICT) adoption among small hotel businesses in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative research is based on seven case studies that fall within the South African and European Union small and medium enterprises (SMEs) definitions. The case studies are constructed on the basis of 60 semi‐structured interviews and supporting secondary data. The authors adopt the Gibbs et al. model which identifies and brings together ICT adoption factors that include government role, environmental attributes, owner/manager attributes, organisational attributes and social networks. Archer's epistemological bootstrapping technique is applied for analysing the data. In addition, Zappala and Gray's stage model is used to gauge the level of ICT uptake reached by each case study. In this way, the authors incorporate an important additional element for examining ICT adoption.

Findings

Apart from providing rich insights into the ICT adoption process, the results highlight the individual distinctive behavioural characteristics as well as the stage of ICT adoption reached by each case study. The paper finds that case studies that operated in a stable business environment; with organisational readiness; financial and owner manager support seemed readily engaged in ICT adoption. Social networks played a crucial role, especially among those small businesses with resource constraints.

Research limitations/implications

The findings from seven individual cases in the three South African Development Community (SADC) countries have limited cross‐case and cross‐national comparisons owing to the distinctive organisational characteristics of the SMEs. Furthermore, the selection of case studies from a single sector of small hotel businesses results in data which only reflect the experiences of SMEs in typical urban locations of Johannesburg, Gaborone and Harare. The implications of these limitations mean that further data are needed from other small firm sectors and more SADC countries in order to gain a better understanding of ICT adoption among SMEs in the region.

Originality/value

The findings contribute to the literature on ICT adoption among SMEs in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The results bring new insights from small hotel businesses and help to explain ICT adoption, which is relatively under‐researched in these SADC countries.

Keywords

Citation

Chinyanyu Mpofu, K. and Watkins‐Mathys, L. (2011), "Understanding ICT adoption in the small firm sector in Southern Africa", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 179-199. https://doi.org/10.1108/13287261111136007

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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