Supporting SMEs Towards E-Business Success: Exploring the Importance of Training, Competence and Stimulation.

Supporting SMEs Towards E-Business Success: Exploring the Importance of Training, Competence and Stimulation.

Tom R. Eikebrokk (University of Agder, Norway) and Dag H. Olsen (University of Agder, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-627-8.ch012
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Abstract

The low e-Business implementation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is an important issue in most countries. This chapter examines the relationship between training, competence and performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and discusses the implications for practice and further research. The study combined data about e-business competences and performance in 339 SMEs with data about training supply from 116 providers of e-business related training in three European countries. The authors find a positive relationship between training, competence and performance and show that training explains variances in e-business competences and performance in terms of efficiency, complementarities, lock-in and novelty. The research contributes to theoretical development by lending support to the idea that methodological issues are an important reason behind the lack of empirical support frequently reported in the literature. The study has practical implications for public policy makers, training suppliers and SME managers.
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Background

It is generally acknowledged that SMEs differ from large firms with respect to investing in information systems. Bharati and Chaudhury (2009) review some of the differences. Firstly, SMEs experience dis-economies of scale and limited autonomy, which constrain growth and business activities. Second, SMEs have low risk propensity. Managers are often owners with a stake in the financial success, and are therefore more risk averse than managers of large firms. Third, SMEs are centralized and have low formalism levels. Typically, decisions are taken by owners and a few top managers. Management practices are often ad hoc and informal. Fourth, SMEs experience cultural insularity and have identity-based trust relationships. Because of their small size, are SMEs usually limited to trade with partners in a small geographical area. Strong ties with a local network may close out impulses from other sources.

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