Understanding the ICT Adoption Process in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)



Information and Communication Technologies are often regarded as powerful enablers for long-term organizational sustainability of SMEs. If at the policy level we can observe a general consensus about the benefits of ICTs for SMEs, on the other side the relatively low diffusion rates, the less optimistic stance proposed by part of the organizational literature and the lack of research on this specific theme suggest that further inquiry is needed. The paper is still a research in progress, at its initial stage. The aim is to shed light on how the adoption process unfolds in smaller enterprises: by overcoming a so-called technological expansionist view, it suggests a shift from trying to find generalized adoption factors towards a deeper understanding of ICT adoption in practice. Considering also that the academic literature mainly focuses on large corporations, the paper proposes to explore this gap and to outline potential directions for future research.


Small Business Technology Acceptance Model Small Enterprise Adoption Decision Adoption Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    European Commission (2008) Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “Think Small First” – A “Small Business Act” for Europe, Brussels.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nadler, D.A. and M.L. Tushman (1999) The organization of the future: Strategic imperatives and core competencies for the 21st century. Organizational Dynamics. 28(1): p. 45–60.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Clemons, E.K. and B.W. Weber (1990) Strategic Information Technology Investments: Guidelines for Decision Making. Journal of Management Information Systems. 7(2): p. 9–28.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Sectoral e-Business Watch (2008) The European e-Business Report 2008, 6th Synthesis Report of the Sectoral e-Business Watch, H. Selhofer, et al., Editors, Brussels.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    European Commission – Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry (2006) Benchmarking of existing national legal e-business practices, from the point of view of enterprises (e-signature, e-Invoicing and e-contracts), Brussels.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Parker, C. and T. Castleman (2007) New directions for research on SME-eBusiness: insights from an analysis of journal articles from 2003 to 2006. Journal of Information Systems and Small Business. 1(1–2): p. 21–40.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Castleman, T. (2004) Small businesses as social formations: diverse rationalities in the context of e-business adoption, in Electronic Commerce in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: Frameworks, Issues and Implications, N.A.Y. Al-Qirim, Editor. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, Pennsylvania. p. 31–51.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Premkumar, G. (2003) A Meta-Analysis of Research on Information Technology Implementation in Small Business. Journal of Organizational Computing & Electronic Commerce. 13(2): p. 91–121.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lees, J.D. and D.D. Lees (1987) Realities of Small Business Information System Implementation. Journal of Systems Management. 38(1): p. 6–13.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Blili, S. and L. Raymond (1993) IT: Threats and opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. International Journal of Information Management, (13): p. 439–448.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hussin, H., M. King, and P. Cragg (2002) IT Alignment in Small Firms. European Journal of Information Systems. 11(2): p. 108–127.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Thong, J.Y.L. and C.S. Yap (1995) CEO characteristics, organizational characteristics and information technology adoption in small businesses. Omega. 23(4): p. 429–442.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Attewell, P. (1992) Technology Diffusion and Organizational Learning: The Case of Business Computing. Organization Science. 3(1): p. 1–19.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Burke, K. (2005) The impact of firm size on Internet use in small businesses. Electronic Markets. 15(2): p. 79–93.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fillis, I., U. Johansson, and B. Wagner (2003) A conceptualisation of the opportunities and barriers to e-business development in the smaller firm. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 10(3): p. 336–344.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wymer, S. and E. Regan (2005) Factors Influencing e commerce Adoption and Use by Small and Medium Businesses. Electronic Markets. 15(4): p. 438–453.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Levy, M. and P. Powell (2003) Exploring SME internet adoption: towards a contingent model. Electronic Markets. 13(2): p. 173–181.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Beckinsale, M., M. Levy, and P. Powell (2006) Exploring internet adoption drivers in SMEs. Electronic Markets. 16(4): p. 361–370.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Taylor, M. and A. Murphy (2004) SMEs and e-business. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 11(3): p. 280–289.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Miller, D. and J. Toulouse (1986) Chief executive personality and corporate strategy and structure in small firms. Management Science: p. 1389–1409.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Al-Qirim, N. (2005) An empirical investigation of an e-commerce adoption-capability model in small businesses in New Zealand. Electronic Markets. 15(4): p. 418–437.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Butler, A., M. Reed, and P. Le Grice (2007) Vocational training: trust, talk and knowledge transfer in small businesses. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 14(2): p. 280–293.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Gibbs, S., J. Sequeira, and M. White (2007) Social networks and technology adoption in small business. International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business. 2(1): p. 66–87.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Simpson, M. and A. Docherty (2004) E-commerce adoption support and advice for UK SMEs. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 11(3): p. 315–328.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Beck, R., R. Wigand, and W. Konig (2005) The diffusion and efficient use of electronic commerce among small and medium-sized enterprises: an international three-industry survey. Electronic Markets. 15(1): p. 38–52.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Simmons, G., G.A. Armstrong, and M.G. Durkin (2008) A Conceptualization of the Determinants of Small Business Website Adoption: Setting the Research Agenda. International Small Business Journal. 26(3): p. 351–389.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Martin, L.M. and H. Matlay (2003) Innovative use of the Internet in established small firms: the impact of knowledge management and organisational learning in accessing new opportunities. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal. 6(1): p. 18–26.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kelliher, F. and J. Henderson (2006) A learning framework for the small business environment. Journal of European Industrial Training. 30(7): p. 512–528.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zhu, K., K.L. Kraemer, and S. Xu (2006) The Process of Innovation Assimilation by Firms in Different Countries: A Technology Diffusion Perspective on E-Business. Management Science. 52(10): p. 1557–1576.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Xu, M., R. Rohatgi, and Y. Duan (2007) E-business adoption in SMEs: some preliminary findings from electronic components industry. International Journal of E-Business Research. 3(1): p. 74–90.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kyobe, M. (2004) Investigating the strategic utilization of IT resources in the small and medium-sized firms of the eastern free state province. International Small Business Journal. 22(2): p. 131.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Morrell, M. and J. Ezingeard (2002) Revisiting adoption factors of inter-organisational information systems in SMEs. Logistics Information Management. 15(1): p. 46–57.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Parker, C. and T. Castleman (2007) Small Firms as Social Formations: Relationships as the Unit of Analysis for eBusiness Adoption Research, in CollECTeR 2007, 9–11 December, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Van de Ven, A. (2007) Engaged scholarship: A guide for organizational and social research, Oxford University Press, USA.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Pentland, B.T. and M.S. Feldman (2007) Narrative Networks: Patterns of Technology and Organization. Organization Science. 18(5): p. 781–795.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Caldeira, M. and J. Ward (2003) Using resource-based theory to interpret the successful adoption and use of information systems and technology in manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises. European Journal of Information Systems. 12(2): p. 127–141.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Olsen, K. and P. SÊtre (2007) IT for niche companies: is an ERP system the solution? Information Systems Journal. 17(1): p. 37–58.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Grandon, E.E. and J.M. Pearson (2004) Electronic commerce adoption: an empirical study of small and medium US businesses. Information & Management. 42(1): p. 197–216.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Business AdministrationLUISS Guido CarliRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations