An Exploratory Look at Attributes of Internet Use and Adoption by Franchisees

An Exploratory Look at Attributes of Internet Use and Adoption by Franchisees

Kelley O’Reilly (Utah State University, USA) and Zsolt Ugray (Utah State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-462-8.ch006
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Abstract

This case study explores the attitudes and perceptions of franchise owner-operators in regard to their acceptance of advanced Internet innovation and technologies. Because these franchisees serve a dual role as both the decision maker and the end user of new technology and innovation, they provide a dichotomy of perspectives that yield insights into many aspects of business leadership, customer service, and operational proficiency. Findings suggest five key attributes of Internet use and adoption by franchisees. The data in this exploratory case study also reveals three areas of disparity regarding franchisee behavior worthy of consideration by practitioners and academics: (1) The inward focus of franchisees, (2) project costs are considered superficially, and (3) the micro SME as change agent. This research is significant and accretive by capturing the voice of franchisees in regard to Internet acceptance and by providing a strategic look at how the franchise micro SME is significantly different than non-franchised and larger SMEs.
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Introduction

The world in which small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) compete has been forever changed by the Internet (McGowan, Durkin, Allen, Dougan, & Nixon, 2001; Simmons, Armstrong, & Durkin, 2008; Terziovski, 2003; Yang, Lin, Liu, Chao, & Chen, 2008). While the benefits of the Internet for SMEs are well supported in the literature, Internet use and adoption in SMEs has been relatively slow (Al-Qirim, 2007; Brown, Lockett, & Schubert, 2005; Fillis & Wagner, 2005; Hashim, 2009; Levy, Powell, & Worrall, 2005); particularly for advanced Internet innovations that go beyond the mere use of websites and mass emails and utilize more sophisticated two-way interaction and analytical data processing (Bengtsson, Boter, & Vanyushyn, 2007; Hashim, 2009; Poon & Swatman, 1999).

While much of the SME literature detailing technology adoption and innovation reports nuances and certain discrepancies as to the key factors that either drive or inhibit Internet adoption and use by SMEs, certain agreements do exist. Factors commonly cited as drivers and/or inhibitors of Internet use and adoption are typically considered from three perspectives: internal, external, and organizational. Within each perspective, common drivers and/or inhibitors for Internet use can be found in the literature. Internal factors typically include perceived usefulness, marketing benefits, existence of a project champion, and project cost (Al-Qirim, 2007; Beckinsale, Levy, & Powell, 2006; Bengtsson et al., 2007; McGowan & Durkin, 2002; Mehrtens, Cragg, & Mills, 2001; Poon & Swatman, 1997, 1999; Simmons et al., 2008; Wymer & Regan, 2005). External factors commonly listed are competitive pressure, customer demand, and vendor support (Al-Qirim, 2007; Beckinsale et al., 2006; Levy & Powell, 2003; Mehrtens et al., 2001). Finally, organizational factors usually include organizational size, technical experience, and organizational readiness (Bengtsson et al., 2007; Burke, 2005; Cragg & King, 1993; Karakaya & Khalil, 2004; Mehrtens et al., 2001).

A variety of approaches, methodologies, and contexts have been used to identify, investigate, and verify technology adoption and use and the drivers and/or inhibitors of Internet use by SMEs through empirical work (Wymer & Regan, 2005). From the aspect of technology adoption and use, several prevailing frameworks and theoretical models are commonly used to frame this research such as the Theory of Reasoned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980), the Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, 1989; McFarland & Hamilton, 2006), the Adoption, Innovation, and Diffusion Theory (Rogers, 1995), Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura,1986), and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis, 2003). However, “no single model or theory dominates” (Wymer & Regan, 2005, p. 439).

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