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Conceptualising digital transformation in SMEs: an ecosystemic perspective

Claudia Pelletier (School of Management, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Canada)
L. Martin Cloutier (School of Management Sciences, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 15 November 2019

Issue publication date: 4 December 2019




Supported by a service ecosystem that is increasingly immersed into digital transformation, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to turnkey information technology (IT) applications, which may come free of charge but not free of concerns. The purpose of this paper is to explore a group conceptualisation and associated perceptions of IT issues within an ecosystem that includes three subgroup profiles: entrepreneurs, IT professionals and socioeconomic support professionals.


Using group concept mapping, a bottom-up and participatory mixed methods-based approach, a concept map was estimated, based on a list of items, to define seven clusters pertaining to issues and challenges of adoption and use of turnkey IT applications in SMEs of less than 20 employees. Perceptions measures of relative importance and feasibility were obtained by subgroup profiles.


The relative importance and relative feasibility measures for the seven clusters indicate significant statistical differences in ratings among the subgroup profiles. A discussion on the importance of relational capital in addressing challenges of digital transformation in SMEs is developed.


Results highlight signifiant differences concerning key dimensions in the adoption and use of IT from the perspective of three subgroup profiles of actors within the ecosystem. First, the results stress the need to develop a shared understanding of IT challenges. Second, they suggest policymakers could use these conceptual representations to further develop and strengthen the IT-related support agenda for SMEs, especially the smaller ones (e.g. training programs, business support and coaching initiatives, etc.).



Pelletier, C. and Cloutier, L.M. (2019), "Conceptualising digital transformation in SMEs: an ecosystemic perspective", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 855-876.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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