Innovation Translation and E-Commerce in SMEs

Innovation Translation and E-Commerce in SMEs

Arthur Tatnall (Victoria University, Australia) and Stephen Burgess (Victoria University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-799-7.ch101
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Abstract

Adoption of a new technology cannot be automatically assumed. The implementation of an e-commerce system in a small to medium enterprise (SME) necessitates change in the way the business operates, and so should be considered as an innovation and studied using innovation theory. In this article we argue that the decision to adopt, or not to adopt a new technology, has more to do with the interactions and associations of both human and nonhuman actors involved in the project than with the characteristics of the technology. As e-commerce necessarily involves interactions of people and technology, any study of how it is used by SMEs must be considered in a socio-technical context for its true complexity to be revealed (Tatnall & Burgess, 2005). This complexity is due, to a considerable degree, to the interconnected parts played by human actors and by the multitude of nonhuman entities involved: small business managers, sales people, procurement staff, computers, software, Web browsers, Internet service providers, modems and Web portals are only some of the many heterogeneous components of an e-commerce system. In this article we will argue that the complexity of these systems is best seen and understood by taking this heterogeneity into account and finding a way to give due regard to both human and nonhuman aspects. The implementation of an e-commerce system in an SME necessitates change in the way the business operates and we contend that this is best studied in the light of innovation theory. In this article we examine how innovation translation, informed by actor-network theory, can be usefully applied in analysis of the adoption, or nonadoption, of e-commerce. We illustrate this in two Australian case studies.

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