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Software-supported collaboration in small- and medium-sized enterprises

Thomas Hardwig (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Stefan Klötzer (Department of Social and Communication Psychology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Margarete Boos (Department of Social and Communication Psychology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 12 December 2019

Issue publication date: 18 February 2020




This paper aims to understand the current state and challenges of deploying collaborative applications in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany.


A survey of 101 SMEs in Germany showed how intensively collaborative applications are used today and the positive and negative effects associated with their use. Analyses proved correlations between the use of collaborative applications, the need for cooperation within SMEs and the effects and benefits of their use.


The company representatives surveyed reported a positive balance of their pro and con experiences with collaborative applications. The use of collaborative applications closely interacts with work-related demands: the more complex the requirements of joint action, the broader the benefits and challenges are of their use. The data also revealed three gaps between demand of cooperation and use of specific applications, supporting the argument that implementation of collaborative applications is challenging for SMEs. A successful use requires major changes in work systems and culture of the company.

Research limitations/implications

The data of the survey are not representative of the population of SMEs in Germany.


These empirical findings contribute a unique as well as substantive view of today’s state of digitalisation of project communication and management within SMEs, specifically their deployment of collaborative software.



This contribution is based on the research and development project CollaboTeam. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Social Fund within the framework concept “Work in the digitalized world” (number 02L15A060) and managed by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA). The authors are responsible for the contents of this publication. For more information, refer


Hardwig, T., Klötzer, S. and Boos, M. (2020), "Software-supported collaboration in small- and medium-sized enterprises", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-23.



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