An Interventionist Approach to E-Commerce Implementation in SMEs

An Interventionist Approach to E-Commerce Implementation in SMEs

David Tucker (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, UK) and Anthony Lafferty (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-943-4.ch154
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Abstract

SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) make a vital contribution to the economic and social well being of most European nations. Many SMEs have invested in an e-commerce presence on the Internet. They are motivated by the potential benefits, which include increased competitiveness and efficiency. In the U.K. there are many examples of entrepreneurial SMEs that have successfully embraced e-commerce. However, there are also many more SMEs that could benefit from Web-based e-commerce but have not yet done so. This chapter sets out the main factors that are inhibiting SMEs from adopting e-commerce. It then reports on a two-year teaching company scheme (TCS) between the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School (MMUBS) and Partwell Ltd., a U.K.-based manufacturing SME. This TCS was designed to improve the competitiveness of Partwell by establishing an e-commerce Web presence. The chapter highlights the philosophy and objectives of the TCS programme and describes the process of technology transfer between Partwell and MMUBS. One of the authors became immersed in the company for the two-year duration of the project, and the data presented here are based on his experience as an initiator of change. The action learning method by which e-commerce was introduced into the company is described and the results are evaluated against contemporary technology diffusion literature. It is shown that gaining the trust of key employees at Partwell, coupled with the adoption of a soft approach to e-commerce implementation, is a critical success factor. Finally, the chapter reports on the benefits that Partwell has gained through the TCS experience.

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