SMEs and E-Business: Implementation, Strategies and Policy
Mário Pedro Leite de Almeida Ferreira (Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal)
Copyright © 2013.
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The adoption of E-Business by SMEs is a critical issue for economic development. More than 90% of world companies are SMEs and E-Business is widely recognized as a critical source of competitive advantage. Thus, it is important to understand why SMEs are lagging behind large firms in terms of E-Business adoption and assimilation. This chapter will attempt to search for explanations through a comprehensive analysis of main topics in terms of E-Business implementation, strategies and policy. It is believed that the inadequacy of existing E-Business adoption incentives and theoretical models may be due to SME specificity, as these companies are conditioned among other by resource availability and high CEOs/owners’ dependency. Empirical evidence shows that SMEs have erratic behaviors in terms of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) investment and need external support to integrate E-Business in the overall strategy of the firm.
An accurate overview of the importance of E-Business for SMEs must start from a clear understanding of these two realities. Even though the concepts of E-Business and SMEs are used intensively in academia and business, there is still discordance about their true meaning and economic relevance. In most manuscripts, these terms are used interchangeably and choices are determined by national statistics, specific research goals and data collection limitations. This diversity can be a source of misunderstanding in a chapter that attempts to compare different authors, studies and national realities. Consequently, in order to have an objective approach to this topic, two types of explanations are required. First, it is important to understand the relevance of SMEs and E-Business in today’s world and how they can relate to each other. Second, it is useful to know their true meaning and define the particular concepts that are going to be used during the chapter.