Theoretical Approaches to Study SMEs eBusiness Progression

Fernando Alonso Mendo, Guy Fitzgerald


It has been suggested that the adoption of Internet technologies by SMEs follows an ordered sequence of stages and staged models to describe it. These models postulate that businesses move in stages from basic use of the Internet to the full integration of business systems and redesign of business processes. The European Union and the UK government appear to believe in such models and have used them in their e-business adoption encouragement policies for SMEs. However, despite the efforts of governments and the various support programs, the attainment of the advanced stages of e-commerce by SMEs is very low. Indeed, several studies into the state of e-business in the UK report a decline in the number of SMEs implementing e-trading and even using website and e-mail. Hence, perhaps these adoption models need to be questioned and even revised. There are a number of authors that have already critized these models suggesting that they are too general and do not take into account the diversity of SMEs. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to conduct an analysis of the Stages of Growth model looking at its weaknesses and strengths in the context of the progression of Internet technologies adoption by SMEs in the UK. In addition, alternative explanations of e-business progression will be presented and an interpretative multi-theoretical framework to study this evolution will be suggested.

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