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Mobile phones and micro‐trading activities – conceptualizing the link

Richard Boateng (Visiting Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Legon, Ghana, and Founder and Executive Director of PearlRichards Foundation, Accra, Ghana)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of mobile phones on the micro‐trading activities of traders in Ghana. The study aims to develop a conceptual model analyzing the impact of mobile phones on pre‐trade, during‐trade and post‐trade activities.


A mixed methods approach consisting of a descriptive survey of 136 traders and a case study of two traders was adopted.


The findings suggest that traders primarily use mobile phones to monitor goods and pricing strategies, scheduling deliveries, and addressing inquiries and complaints in during‐trade activities. Traders, including those with no formal education, also use mobile phones as calculators in post‐trade activities. This innovative use of mobile phones is a function of their pre‐knowledge which may have been developed through formal education and/or social networks. Improving information management through mobile phones directly or indirectly contributes to the economic empowerment of the trader.

Research limitations/implications

The paper proposes a conceptual framework that extends the transaction cost theory to consider transaction benefits and effects in micro‐trading. The study develops four propositions which can guide future research.

Practical implications

The study provides practitioners with a “theoretically‐inspired” framework which goes beyond examining design and adoption to identify needs and assess impact in mobiles for development initiatives.


The conceptual framework extends the work on transaction cost theory in information systems and may inform future research in mobile phones and micro‐trading activities.



Boateng, R. (2011), "Mobile phones and micro‐trading activities – conceptualizing the link", info, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 48-62.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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