The Growth of E-Commerce in Developing Countries: An Exploratory Study of Opportunities and Challenges for SMEs

The Growth of E-Commerce in Developing Countries: An Exploratory Study of Opportunities and Challenges for SMEs

Japhet E. Lawrence (University of Kurdistan-Hawler, Iraq)
DOI: 10.4018/jictrda.2011010102
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Abstract

The growth of the Internet has opened up a vast arena, providing more opportunities for businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to sell their products and services to a global audience than they would have been able to afford to reach using the traditional methods. SMEs are extremely important to many countries and their contribution to economy cannot be over emphasized. Several researchers have studied the contribution of the Internet and highlight the importance of convenience, satisfaction, quality, and consumer purchase behavior. In this study, it is argued that SMEs stand to benefit significantly from the opportunities and benefits that the Internet offers to businesses. Therefore, the use of the Internet is widely seen as critical for the competitiveness of SMEs in the emerging global market. The study is exploratory in nature and will be conducted in three stages. The findings presented in this paper, argues that SMEs in developing countries must learn from the experiences of developed countries, such as the United States and European countries, and use the Internet more frequently.
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Research Methodology

The study is exploratory in nature and will be conducted in three stages. The first stage was based on a review of the literature. In stage two, a survey questionnaire of randomly selected SMEs will be conducted across the Kurdistan region of Iraq, to elicit information regarding the current status of e-commerce usage. The use of survey in this study is important, because the analysis from the survey questionnaire might highlight issues that need to be resolved through case study interview with SMEs. The survey will be designed to collect descriptive data and it will make no provision for interaction with the participants. Although it is hoped to provide a comprehensive picture of current e-commerce usage and to discover patterns that are common across SMEs. However, it will not provide explanation of how SMEs have benefited from e-commerce and the possible challenges preventing them from using the technology. While the survey method is very useful, Kraemer and Dutton (1991) suggest that it is greatly improved when used in conjunction with the case study method. The survey phase of this study will set much of the agenda for the qualitative phase by providing descriptive information.

The final stage will be carried out using multiple case studies of SMEs that have previously completed the questionnaire in stage two to elicit qualitative information to complement the shortcomings of the survey. The case study phase will be based on the results of the survey questionnaire and further review of the literature. The aim is to gain a deeper insight into the issues raised in the survey questionnaire.

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