E-Business for SME Development: Some Promising Initiatives in Quebec, Canada
Éliane M.F. Moreau (Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, Canada), Louis Raymond (Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, Canada) and Bernard Vermot-Desroches (Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009
In recent years, information communication technologies (ICT) have become accessible throughout the world, and appear to overcome both distance and time (Cairncross, 1997). ICT affects not only individual citizens, but also companies of all sizes and across all sectors. Of all the benefits of ICT use, the most important appears to be the improvement of competitive capacity by removing geographical and time barriers. SMEs that use ICT hope to increase their market share, achieve growth and overtake their competitors. But does better competitive capacity also have an impact on local and regional development (LRD)? And does LRD have an impact on the economy of a country and the limit of a nation? The ICT/regional development challenge is a sizeable one, since the two elements evolve at very different speeds-ICT evolves quickly, while regional development is achieved slowly. Regional development at both the economic and social levels extends over a given area, within a well-identified space. The people living within the region have shared interests, goals and needs. They share, cooperate and collaborate between themselves and with the region’s stakeholders and businesses. The principal concepts underlying their actions are autonomy, partnership, solidarity, a sense of belonging, inter-personal and intercompany networks, creativity, innovation and so on. Regions, like businesses, must live with competitors both near and far. If we look at all these elements, ICT in general and e-business in particular1may well be powerful factors in local and regional development, playing an innovative role in an economic sector where both time and distance have been redefined. E-business can also generate new economic activities, new products and new services. It constitutes a vital part of the new economy, which is composed of high technology, multimedia and dot.com firms. Throughout the industrialized world, a number of ICT and e-business initiatives have been proposed to support and accelerate LRD (EuroCom, 2002). For example, some governments have proposed projects that will enable them to follow the pack, while in other countries projects have emerged from the bottom up, through regional and local economic portals or electronic markets.