A multidimensional framework for SME e‐business progression

Fernando Alonso Mendo (School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics, Brunel Unversity, Uxbridge, UK)
Guy Fitzgerald (School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics, Brunel Unversity, Uxbridge, UK)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper sets out to critique the applicability of e‐commerce staged models in explaining the progression of small and medium‐sized businesses (SMEs) in their use of internet technologies. The premise of this study is that examining the evolution of web sites over time gives us insights into actual evolving strategies and motivations behind internet investments.


An alternative multidimensional framework is proposed that combines three different dimensions of organizational change (process, content, and drivers). The content or categories of the dimensions are defined and justified. A study of 192 web sites and their evolution is described. This helps to demonstrate the relevance and applicability of the dimensions of the framework.


The study describes the different approaches (monitoring, content analysis and case studies) and the characteristics of changes on these web sites. It was found that the main evolution strategies were “content updates” and “dormant sites”. In addition, the majority of companies seem to have evolved their web sites to refresh the image and change navigation protocols and not to add transactional e‐commerce features.

Practical implications

The proposed framework is argued to be useful to academics, providing multiple perspectives, enabling more insightful study of SMEs' e‐business adoption and progression, and avoiding over‐simple a priori theory, e.g. staged models. The framework is also argued to be useful for SME managers seeking to make the most of their limited resources in this context.


The paper provides a multidimensional framework which is new and comprehensive. It also provides some research findings using the framework relating to a pilot study of 192 SME web sites. Little prior research has been carried out on the evolution of SMEs' web sites, in terms of the type of drivers, the features that have been incorporated over time, and how they have changed.



Alonso Mendo, F. and Fitzgerald, G. (2005), "A multidimensional framework for SME e‐business progression", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 678-696. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410390510628382

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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