E-business and the SME: international perspectives of deployment

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 28 October 2013


Jones, D.P. (2013), "E-business and the SME: international perspectives of deployment", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 20 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-08-2013-0112



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

E-business and the SME: international perspectives of deployment

Article Type: Guest Editorial From: Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Volume 20, Issue 4

About the Guest Editors Dr Paul Jones is a Reader in Entrepreneurship, at the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, Plymouth Business School, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK.

Professor Gary Packham is Deputy Dean for Research and Development, Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.

Dr Martin Beckinsale is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Management, Leicester Business School, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

The focus of this special issue is to examine the impact of E-business within the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector from an international perspective. In recent years, the adoption of E-business technologies within the SME sector has gathered momentum globally with widespread usage of electronic mail, websites and E-commerce trading. However, it is widely acknowledged within the academic community that there is a limited literature evaluating the impact of E-business technologies especially in an international context. This special issue is therefore, a first step in providing an extended knowledge base examining how E-business technologies have impacted upon the processes, productivity and profitability of the SME sector in a global context. It was gratifying to note the interest in the special issue with a diverse range of papers received and countries represented.

Powell, Caldwell, Harland and Zheng study investigated the risks perceived by SMEs from engaging in E-business. The focus was on perceived risks, rather than expert-calculated risks, as risk perception was more likely to drive change. The research identified that, rather than E-business destabilising existing supply structures, there is substantial stability. The study by Durkin, McGowan and McKeown considers the usage of social media within SMEs. Their study found that social media was regarded as an essential tool to achieve business growth. However, they found minimal evidence of a considered strategic approach towards its adoption. In the third paper, Ramdani, Chevers and Williams explored the technology, organisation and environment factors influencing SMEs adoption of enterprises software applications. The study found that such factors do impact significantly upon SMEs adoption of software applications. In the following paper, Ghobakhloo and Tang propose an integrated model of E-commerce adoption in SMEs for developing countries. The research model specifies variables at managerial level as the primary determinants to E-commerce adoption in SBs. Perceived benefits, perceived compatibility, perceived risks, perceived costs, and innovativeness were found to be the significant determinants of the decision to adopt E-commerce. The study by Galloway and Sanders investigated website quality in rural firms in Scotland, New Zealand, China and Russia. The study identified differences in website quality between rural small businesses in different geographical locations and concluded that enterprise skills, knowledge and infrastructure had an impact on website sophistication.

Dyerson, Spiinelli and Harindranath’s paper considered the issue of information technology (IT) readiness within SMEs in the Liguria region of Italy. Their findings suggest that IT readiness of SMEs varies depending not only on the state of their investment in IT applications but also on the strategic vision exhibited by the Owner/Manager and project management capability. The results indicate that it is possible that some SMEs adopt in IT without a clear strategic goal in place and lacking the internal capability to manage the investment effectively. In the following paper, Nguyen and Waring examine customer relationship management (CRM) adoption in SMEs and its association to the nature of the business and the individuals therein. The study undertaken in southern California found that Owner/Manager innovativeness affects SMEs’ perception of CRM systems, but Owner/Manager age, education and gender do not. The decision whether to implement a CRM system is influenced by the Owner/Managers’ perception of CRM, employee involvement, SME size and its perceived market position. The number and types of CRM features implemented are affected by management’s perception of CRM, employee involvement, SME size and industry sector. The next paper, by Brem, Jahanshahi and Zhang, considers innovative E-commerce usage in SMEs from India, Malaysia and Iran. Despite highly perceived benefits and optimism, the actual level of adoption of EC by SMEs is low. This finding could be due to a number of barriers and constraints facing SMEs in such countries including issues with internet connection failures, difficulty using and finding websites and lack of user support. The study found that enhanced SME branding and corporate image is the most important advantage from the perspective of East Asian SMEs. The ninth paper, by Jones, Pickernell, White, Packham, Thomas and Willis, examined E-commerce usage within UK SMEs on a national perspective. The results suggest that EC is more strongly apparent in SMEs started from scratch and where they were involved in basic or high knowledge services or the tourist trade. SMEs undertaking E-commerce were also associated with innovation in the form of copyright, as well as public procurement with local authorities and the University sector. Specific business advice in the form of capacity, family and suppliers was also associated with effective E-commerce trading.

The next contribution, by Choudrie and Culkin, focused on the use of mobile phone technology diffusion within the UK SME construction industry. This research provides enhanced understanding regarding the impacts of implemented policies and supporting instruments in forming collaborative research between government organisations, academic institutions and SMEs. The paper by Wynn explores the impact of E-business technology adoption at process level within SMEs via in-depth case studies. The findings demonstrate significant impacts of E-business technology at process level and how contrasting information systems strategies can successfully embrace process change. The results suggest the importance of organisational issues in determining the degree of benefits that are achieved. The final paper, by Thompson, Williams and Thomas, examines the impact of developing more active websites and increasing E-commerce on the relationship between innovation and growth performance in SMEs. The results suggest that although theoretically websites with tools allowing interaction with customers or suppliers could benefit SMEs through a reduction in transaction costs and wider access to information, enabling them to jointly experience innovation and growth, in practice there is less evidence that this occurs. If anything those SMEs with active websites are more likely to be innovative, but less not more likely to be both innovative and achieving growth.

Finally, we would like to extend our gratitude to Professor Harry Matlay, the journal editor, for his advice and patience during the development of the special edition. Moreover, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to the many individuals involved in, and who contributed to, the delivery of this issue of JSBED including authors, referees, and employees of the Emerald Publishing Group. Their commitment and dedication to the special issue is much appreciated.

Dr Paul Jones, Professor Gary Packham and Dr Martin Beckinsale