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SMEs need formative infrastructure for business transformation

Klas Gäre (Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden)
Ulf Melin (Department of Management and Engineering Information Systems, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 18 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

ICT has considerable importance for increasing productivity and growth. Using ICT requires resources to create value. As resources are more limited in smaller enterprises, and the contexts and conditions for using ICT in SMEs are not well known, the purpose is to investigate conditions in the context of sensemaking for ICT adoption and use among SMEs.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a qualitative and explorative methodological point of departure and approach. More than 60 interviews are performed within a geographical region. Empirical data were analyzed for similarities and patterns into themes and topics.

Findings

The article was able to highlight the conditions for using ICT in SMEs by applying a qualitative research approach. The important findings from this research as a formative ICT infrastructure can be viewed as constituted by needs identified among SMEs, in sensemaking, sensegiving, and service infrastructures. In SMEs there are less infrastructure and fewer overhead and support services than in larger enterprises. The adoption processes in SMEs differ from the ones in larger enterprises in that they rely more on external relations in a public infrastructure for sensemaking in ICT adoption and use.

Research limitations/implications

Formative ICT infrastructure in SMEs is not a well‐known concept. The need for formative infrastructure in ICT adoption and use in SMEs relies on external partners and other actors in the sensemaking and sensegiving processes. Further research is needed for understanding actors and roles better, as well as arenas for sensemaking ICT in SMEs.

Practical implications

Designing the infrastructure for ICT use and development, particularly in SMEs, but also in other enterprises and organizations, requires better understanding of the conditions. The emphasis on infrastructure for ICT adoption processes will help SMEs to receive more relevant investments.

Originality/value

The study integrates micro‐ and macro‐perspectives and combines theories from different fields to extend the knowledge of formative infrastructure for SME's adoption and use of ICT in terms of firm size and dependency on public infrastructure.

Keywords

Citation

Gäre, K. and Melin, U. (2011), "SMEs need formative infrastructure for business transformation", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 520-533. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410391111166558

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited