SME International E-Commerce Activity

  • James H. Tiessen
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


This paper examines small and medium enterprise (SME) internationalization and the Internet. The economic importance of SMEs is widely recognized through their 40% to 60% contribution to employment and value-added in most OECD countries (OECD 2002a)1. Further, SMEs account for 20% to 25% of global exports (OECD 2002a). The 1990′s expansion of economic globalization, in concert with the not completely unrelated growth of the World Wide Web (WWW has set the stage for an even greater SME participation in global markets. Globalization, the WWW and SME internationalization became ubiquitous during the 1990s. Trade currently comprises about 20% of world GDP. Depending on the country, 40% to 60% of the population of developed nations is Internet users (International Telecommunication Union 2003). In 2002, more than 60% of Canadian, 55% of US and 45% of European Union (EU) SMEs had adopted Internet business solutions (McClean et al. 2003). Recent research on the international activities of SMEs shows that start-up companies, especially those in high-tech sectors, are internationalizing at increasingly faster rates (Oviatt and McDougall 1997; Schrader et al. 2000; Knight 2000).


European Union International Business Study Electronic Data Interchange Firm Capability Management International Review 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aaby N, Slater SF (1989) Management influences on export performance: A review of the empirical literature. International Marketing Review 6(4): 7–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barney J (1991) Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management 17(1): 99–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernard AB, Jensen JB (1999) Exceptional exporter performance: Cause, effect or both? Journal of International Economics 47(1): 1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berthon P, Pitt L, Katsikeas CS, Berthon JP (1999) Virtual services go international: International services in the marketplace. Journal of International Marketing 7(3): 84–105Google Scholar
  5. Bilkey WJ (1978) An attempted integration of the literature on the export behavior of firms. Journal of International Business Studies 9(1): 33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonaccorsi A (1992) On the relationship between firm size and export intensity. Journal of International Business Studies 23: 605–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Calof JL (1994) The relationship between firm size and export behavior revisited. Journal of International Business Studies 25: 367–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Canada-Japan Trade Council (1998) Directory of companies in Canada doing business with Japan. Canada-Japan Trade Council, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  9. Coviello NE, McAuley A (1999) Internationalization and the smaller firm: A review of contemporary empirical research. Management International Review 39(3): 223–56Google Scholar
  10. Daniel E, Wilson H, Myers A (2002) Adoption of e-commerce by SMEs in the UK, towards a stage model. International Small Business Journal 20(3): 253–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis FD, Bagozzi RP, Warshaw PR (1989) User acceptance of computer technology: A comparison of two theoretical models. Management Science 35(8): 982–1003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DiMaggio PJ, Powell WW (1983) The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review 18: 122–35Google Scholar
  13. Dishaw MT, Strong DM (1999) Extending the technology acceptance model with tasktechnology fit constructs. Information and Management 36: 9–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eisenhardt KM (1989) Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review 14: 532–50Google Scholar
  15. eMarketer (2003) Worldwide B2B revenues to pass one trillion. Available at:
  16. Evans P, Wurster TS (1999) Getting real about virtual commerce. Harvard Business Review 77(6): 85–94Google Scholar
  17. Hamill J (1997) The Internet and international marketing. International Marketing Review 14(5): 300–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ho J (1997) Evaluating the World Wide Web: A global study of commercial sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [online] 3(1) Available at:
  19. Hornby G, Goulding P, Poon S (2002) Perceptions of export barriers and cultural issues: The SME e-commerce experience. Journal of Electronic Commerce 3(4):213–26Google Scholar
  20. Iacovou CL, Benbasat I, Dexter AS (1995) Electronic data interchange and small organizations: Adoption and impact of technology. MIS Quarterly 19(4): 465–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. International Telecommunication Union, Telecommunications Free Statistics Homepage, Available at:
  22. Kassaye WW (1999) Sorting out the practical concerns in World Wide Web advertising. International Journal of Advertising 18: 339–61Google Scholar
  23. Knight G (2000) Entrepreneurship and marketing strategy: The SME under globalization. Journal of International Marketing 8(2): 12–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leonidou LC, Katsikeas CS (1996) The export development process: An integrative review of empirical models. Journal of International Business Studies 27(3): 517–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leonidou LC, Katsikeas CS, Piercy NF (1998) Identifying managerial influences on exporting: Past research and future directions. Journal of International Marketing 6(2): 74–102Google Scholar
  26. Madden G, Coble-Neal G (2002) Internet economics and policy: An Australian perspective. Economic Record 78(242): 343–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mahadevan B (2000) Business models for Internet-based e-commerce: An anatomy. California Management Review 42(4): 55–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthews G (2003) Local firm gets latitude: Longitude fund acquires mobile knowledge. Ottawa Sun March 18: 47Google Scholar
  29. McClean RJ, Johnston DA, Wade M (2003) Net impact Canada: The international experience. Report prepared for the Canadian e-Business InitiativeGoogle Scholar
  30. McCracken G (1990) The long interview. Sage, Newbury ParkGoogle Scholar
  31. McDougall PP, Shane S, Oviatt BM (1994) Explaining the formation of international new ventures: The limits of theories from international business research. Journal of Business Venturing 7: 469–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mehrtens J, Cragg PB, Mills AM (2001) A model of Internet adoption by SMEs. Information and Management 39: 165–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Miles MB, Huberman AM (1994) Qualitative data analysis. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  34. Morrison AJ, King BEM (2002) Small tourism businesses and e-commerce: Victorian tourism online. Tourism and Hospitality Research 4(2): 104–15Google Scholar
  35. OECD (2002a) Small and medium enterprise outlook. OECD, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. OECD (2002b) Electronic commerce and SMEs. ICT and electronic commerce for SMEs: A progress report DSI/IND/PME (2002) 7, OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  37. OECD (2002c) Measuring the information economy. OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  38. Oliver C (1991) Strategic responses to institutional processes. Academy of Management Review 16(1): 145–79Google Scholar
  39. Oviatt BM, McDougall PP (1997) Challenges for internationalization process theory: The case of international new ventures. Management International Review 37(2): 85–99Google Scholar
  40. Porter ME (1985) Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Prasad VK, Ramamurthy K, Naidu GM (2001) The influence of Internet-marketing integration on marketing competencies and export performance. Journal of International Marketing 9(4): 82–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Quelch JA, Klein LR (1996) The Internet and international marketing. Sloan Management Review 37(3): 60–75Google Scholar
  43. Reuber AR, Fischer E (1997) The influence of the management team’s international experience on the internationalization behavior of SMEs. Journal of International Business Studies 28(4): 807–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sahlman WA (1999) The new economy is stronger than you think. Harvard Business Review 77: 99–106Google Scholar
  45. Schrader RC, Oviatt BM, McDougall PP (2000) How new ventures exploit trade-offs among international risk factors: Lessons for the accelerated internationalization of the 21st century. Academy of Management Journal 43(6): 1227–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schumpeter JA (1961) Theory of economic development. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. Seybold P (1998) How to create a profitable business strategy for the Internet and beyond. New York Times Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Sparkes A, Thomas TB (2001) The use of the Internet as a critical success factor for the marketing of Welsh agri-food SMEs in the twenty-first century. British Food Journal 103(5): 331–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Statistics Canada (2000) E-commerce and business use of the Internet. Available at:
  50. Strauss AL, Corbin J (1990) Basics of qualitative research. Sage, Newbury ParkGoogle Scholar
  51. Tiessen JH, Wright RW, Turner I (2001) A model of e-commerce use by internationalizing SMEs. Journal of International Management 7:211–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. UNCTAD (2002) E-commerce and development report 2002. United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  53. WTO (2003) World trade figures 2002: Trade recovered in 2002, but uncertainty continues. WTO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  54. Yin RW (1989) Case study research. Sage, Newbury ParkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Tiessen
    • 1
  1. 1.Michael G. DeGroote School of BusinessMcMaster UniversityHamilton, OntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations