Technological Hurdles to Caribbean E-Commerce: Responses by Innovative Managers

Technological Hurdles to Caribbean E-Commerce: Responses by Innovative Managers

William Wresch (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, USA) and Simon Fraser (The University of West Indies, Trinidad)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-138-4.ch009
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Studies summarized by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development continue to show that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries face particular problems with managerial skills, connectivity, branding, logistics, security, and foreign competition. Yet the same studies note that barriers and e-commerce efforts vary considerably from one region of the world to another. To determine if these barriers are significant in the Caribbean region, during July and August of 2004, the principle investigators visited business executives in five Caribbean nations. 36 businesses and government agencies were interviewed. General results showed significant e-commerce efforts underway in these countries with most enabling technologies and business systems in place. However, several major barriers were repeatedly encountered. Logistics challenges, including shipping and customs barriers, as well as recent import controls in the United States were frequently mentioned. Many also described a banking sector unwilling or unable to facilitate convenient electronic payment systems. Nevertheless, executives described a number of e-commerce strategies which could be adopted by other SMEs that wish to increase their e-commerce income. The investigators present four managerial characteristics that were seen in the leading businesses. The authors hope the results of this study will suggest improved strategies for SMEs in developing countries seeking to use e-commerce to expand their markets.
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We are all well aware of the huge differences in technology diffusion between richer and poorer countries. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently described the disparity this way:

Regardless of how we measure it, there is an immense information and communication technology (ICT) gap, a “digital divide”, between developed and developing countries. A person in a high-income country is over 22 times more likely to be an Internet user than someone in a low-income country. Secure Internet servers, a rough indicator of electronic commerce, are over 100 times more common in high income than low-income countries. In high-income countries, mobile phones are 29 times more prevalent and mainline penetration is 21 times that of low-income countries. Relative to income, the cost of Internet access in a low-income country is 150 times the cost of a comparable service in a high-income country. There are similar divides within individual countries. ICT is often non-existent in poor and rural areas of developing countries. (The Digital Divide Report, 2005, piii)

This disparity occurs against a backdrop of great hope in the potential for e-commerce to aid the development processes of poor countries. Kamel and Hussein speak for many when they say, “e-commerce… provides unprecedented opportunities for increasing trade, promoting investment, facilitating business transactions, providing a larger and more varied market and supplying an unprecedented marketing tool.” (Kamel, 2002, p.148)

This opportunity for increased sales has motivated considerable interest in ecommerce efforts in developing countries. Yet studies of e-commerce efforts continue to demonstrate that many barriers to success exist, especially for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). UNCTAD’s 2004 annual report notes that barriers differ from country to country and region to region, but the barriers commonly found include

  • 1.

    Managerial skills necessary to plan and successfully implement an e-business strategy (UNCTAD, 2004, p.54)

  • 2.

    Connectivity (quality, speed, cost) (p.54)

  • 3.

    branding (customers prefer to put their trust in well-known brands rather than take the risk of buying from unknown companies over the internet (p.30)

  • 4.

    Logistical networks for the prompt and reliable delivery of products. (p.30)

  • 5.

    Trust in the legal and regulatory environment (security). (p.51)

At the same time, UNCTAD also notes that SMEs are being driven to use the internet for business by competitors and suppliers. “Global competition is a driver of ICT uptake among SME’s, in particular those targeting the export market.” (p.31)


Literature Review

Given so many barriers and so much competition, is it possible for SME’s in developing countries to succeed in e-commerce? Previous studies have found few successes. A recent study of nine least developed nations (Wresch, 2003) found executives at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were finding little growth in sales from their web sites, and were having significant difficulties gaining visibility through search engines and shipping products to remote markets. Previous research explains why such difficulties persist.

Complete Chapter List

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Associate Editors
Table of Contents
M. Gordon Hunter, Felix B. Tan
M. Gordon Hunter, Felix B. Tan
Chapter 1
Alexander Y. Yap
Why are some countries successful with e-commerce while others flounder? This chapter is an update of an earlier research study that the authors... Sample PDF
A Composite Model for E-Commerce Diffusion: Revisited
Chapter 2
Robert M. Davison, Yuan Li, Carol S.P. Kam
In the last few years, Web-based surveys have received increased attention given their potential to cut the costs and time associated with... Sample PDF
Web-Based Data Collection in China
Chapter 3
Jaymeen R. Shah
Privacy laws for the Internet are difficult to develop and implement domestically and internationally. A clear problem is how such laws are limited... Sample PDF
Privacy Protection Overseas as Perceived by USA-Based IT Professionals
Chapter 4
Hongxin Zhao, Seung Kim, Taewon Suh, Jianjun Du
This study attempts to examine empirically how social institutional factors relate to Internet diffusion in 39 countries. Based on nine-year... Sample PDF
Social Institutional Explanations of Global Internet Diffusion: A Cross-Country Analysis
Chapter 5
Somya Joshi, Michael Barrett, Geoff Walsham, Sam Cappleman
This article investigates how, and with what success, global organisations design computer-based systems for knowledge sharing which aim to balance... Sample PDF
Balancing Local Knowledge Within Global Organisations Through Computer-Based Systems: An Activity Theory Approach
Chapter 6
Kevin K.W. Ho, Byungjoon Yoo, Seunghee Yu, Kar Yan Tam
While previous studies on buy-it-now (BIN) auctions focus on the impact of BIN format on economic performances, our study focuses on factors that... Sample PDF
The Effect of Culture and Product Categories on the Level of Use of Buy-It-Now (BIN) Auctions by Sellers
Chapter 7
Shirish C. Srivastava, Thompson S.H. Teo
Though policy makers and governments are interested in understanding the returns from e-Government implementation, there are relatively few... Sample PDF
A Framework for Understanding Returns from E-Government
Chapter 8
Juan Juan Zhang, Sang-Yong Tom Lee
This article studies the role of international spillover of information and communication technology (ICT) in economic growth. We examine the... Sample PDF
A Time Series Analysis of International ICT Spillover
Chapter 9
William Wresch, Simon Fraser
Studies summarized by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development continue to show that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing... Sample PDF
Technological Hurdles to Caribbean E-Commerce: Responses by Innovative Managers
Chapter 10
Robert M. Davidson, Carol S.P. Kim, Maggie Y. Li, Yuan Li, Carol X.J. Ou
In the last few years, Web-based surveys have received increased attention given their potential to cut the costs and time associated with... Sample PDF
Web-Based Surveys in China
Chapter 11
David Gefen, Tsipi Heart
Deliberate exploitation of natural resources and excessive use of environmentally abhorrent materials have resulted in environmental disruptions... Sample PDF
On the Need to Include National Culture as a Central Issue in E-Commerce Trust Beliefs
Chapter 12
Steven Hornik
The horizontal and vertical dimensions of individualism and collectivism are an important characteristic of cultures. These dimensions have many... Sample PDF
Culture's Impact on Technology Mediated Learning: The Role of Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism
Chapter 13
Tamara Dinev, Massimo Bellotto, Paul Hart, Vincenzo Russo, Ilaria Serra, Christian Colautti
The study examines differences in individual’s privacy concerns and beliefs about government surveillance in Italy and the United States. By... Sample PDF
Internet Users' Privacy Concerns and Beliefs About Government Surveillance: An Exploratory Study of Differences Between Italy and the United States
Chapter 14
Shaobo Ji, Qingfei Min, Weihe Han
The purpose of this study is to review current research activities concerning information systems (IS) in mainland China. We thus examined Chinese... Sample PDF
Information Systems Research in China: An Empirical Study
Chapter 15
John Lim
Two seemingly disparate phenomena, advancement in computing technologies and rise in complexity of business negotiations owing to globalization... Sample PDF
A Study in the East Asian Context on Computer Support of Pre-Negotiation and Negotiation Stages
Chapter 16
Sang-Woo Lee, Myeong-Cheol Park, Dan J. Kim
This study relies on a customer demand-based view to examine how mobile number portability affects competition in the Korean mobile... Sample PDF
Mobile Number Portability in an Asymmetric Telecommunications Market: Korea Case
Chapter 17
Hazel Taylor
As outsourced and multinational IT projects become more common, managing risks for these projects is increasingly important. The research reported... Sample PDF
Vendor vs. Client Risks in Outsourced IT Projects: An Agency Theory Perspective
Chapter 18
Susan K. Lippert, John A. Volkmar
Research to date on information technology (IT) adoption has focused primarily on homogeneous single country samples. This study integrates the... Sample PDF
Cultural Effects on Technology Performance and Utilization: A Comparison of U.S. and Canadian Users
Chapter 19
Thompson S.H. Teo
The Internet can be used for different purposes ranging from simple Internet presence to using the Internet for business transformation. This study... Sample PDF
Basic vs. Advanced Modes of Internet Adoption: A Singapore Perspective
Chapter 20
Clive Sanford, Anol Bhattacherjee
This article presents an interpretive analysis of the key problems and challenges to technology implementation in developing countries, based on a... Sample PDF
IT Implementation in a Developing Country Municipality: A Sociocognitive Analysis
Chapter 21
Susan A. Sherer
This article investigates IT investment management processes in the U.S. and Portugal. In Portugal compared to the United States, we find less... Sample PDF
Comparative Study of IT Investment Management Processes in U.S. and Portugal
Chapter 22
Ruey-Lin Hsiao
This article examines e-marketplace adoption difficulties from a contextualist perspective. The analysis of industrial characteristics will unearth... Sample PDF
Misaligned Market: The Importance of Industry Context in Technology-Mediated Exchanges
Chapter 23
Syaiful Ali, Peter Green
Information technology plays a significant role enabling organisations to achieve their objectives. Accordingly, the governance mechanisms over the... Sample PDF
IT Governance Mechanisms in Public Sector Organisations: An Australian Context
Chapter 24
Shirley Chan
In most parts of the world, it is generally considered impolite or even rude to pick up an incoming mobile phone call and to have a longer (and... Sample PDF
Mobile Phone Communication Innovation in Multiple Time and Space Zones: The Case of Hong Kong Culture
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