Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31584
An Investigation of the Barriers to E-business Implementation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Authors: Jeffrey Chang, Barun Dasgupta


E-business technologies, whereby business transactions are conducted remotely using the Internet, present unique opportunities and challenges for business. E-business technologies are applicable to a wide range of organizations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are no exception. There is an established body of literature about e-business, looking at definitions, concepts, benefits and challenges. In general, however, the research focus has been on larger organizations, not SMEs. In an attempt to redress the balance of research, this paper looks at ebusiness technologies specifically from a small business perspective. It seeks to identify the possible barriers that SMEs might face when considering adoption of the e-business concept and practice as part of their business process change initiatives and implementation. To facilitate analysis of these barriers a conceptual framework has been developed which outlines the key conceptual and practical challenges of e-business implementation in SMEs. This is developed following a literature survey comprised of three categories: characteristics of SMEs, issues of IS/IT use in SMEs and general e-business adoption and implementation issues. The framework is then empirically assessed against 7 SMEs who have yet to implement e-business or whose e-business efforts have been unsatisfactory. Conclusions from the case studies can be used to verify the framework, and set parameters for further larger scale empirical investigation.

Keywords: Business process change, disruptive technologies, electronic business (e-Business), electronic commerce (e-Commerce), ICT adoption, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 4935


[1] Basu, A. & Muylle, S., 2007. How to Plan E-Business Initiatives in Established Companies. MIT Sloan Management Review, 49(1), pp. 28- 37.
[2] Vlachos, I. et al., 2009. Adoption By Small and Medium Food Firms: Evidence From Greece. pp. 1-6.
[3] Abid, A. A., Rahim, M. M. & Scheepers, H., 2011. Experienced Benefits and Barriers of E-business Technology Adoption by SME suppliers. Volume 2011, pp. 1-11.
[4] Stockdale, R. & Standing, C., 2004. Benefits and barriers of electronic marketplace participation: an SME perspective. The Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 17(4), pp. 301-311.
[5] Velmurugan, M., 2009. Security and Trust in E-business: Problems AND Prospects. International Journal of Electronic Business Management, 7(3), pp. 151-158.
[6] Fillis, I., Johansson, U. & Wagner, B., 2003. E-business development in the smaller firm. Journal of Small Business Enterprise Development, 10(3), pp. 336-344.
[7] Lawson, R. A., Cooper, J. C. & L, B., 2003. Factors affecting adoption of electronic commerce technologies by SMEs: an Australian study. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 10(3), pp. 265- 276.
[8] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2002. Measuring the Information Economy, Paris, France: OECD Publishing.
[9] Charlesworth, A., 2007. Is the Definition of E-Commerce the Same as the Definiton of E-Business. (Online) Available at: html (Accessed 26 April 2014).
[10] Olhager , J. & Rudberg , M., 2002. Manufacturing strategy and ebusiness: an exploratory study. Integrated marketing systems, 14(4), pp. 334-345.
[11] Timmers, P., 1998. Business models for electronic markets. Electronic Markets, 8(2), pp. 3-8.
[12] Groblinghoff, B., 2001. B2B E-commcerce, The Future of Business Transactions & Relationships. pp. 1-17.
[13] Cullen, A.J. and Webster, M. 2007. A model of B2B e-commerce, based on connectivity and purpose, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 205-225
[14] Chong, W. K.,Shafaghi, M. and Tan, B. L. 2011, Development of a business-to-business critical success factors (B2B CSFs) framework for Chinese SMEs, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 29, No. 5, pp. 517-533
[15] Khurana , H., Goel, K., Singh, M. & Bhutani, L., 2011. E-commerce: Role of E-commerce in Today's Business. VSRD International Journal of Business & Management Research, 1(7), pp. 451-461.
[16] Laudon, K. C. & Traver, C. G., 2009. E-commerce Business Models and Concepts. In: s.l.:Prentice Hall, a divison of Pearson Education, Inc., pp. 63-115.
[17] Nemat , L., 2011. Taking a look at different types of e-commerce. World Applied Programming , 1(2), pp. 100-104.
[18] Poon, S. & Swatman, P., 1999. A longitudinal study of expectations in small business internet commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Volume 3, pp. 21-33.
[19] Jutla, D., Bodorik, P. & Dhaliqal, J., 2002. Supporting the e-business readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises: approaches and metrics. Internet Research: Electronic Networking applications and Policy, 12(2), pp. 139-164.
[20] European Commission, 2005. The New SME Definition, Brussels, Belgium: Enterprise And Industry Publications. Pp. 5.
[21] Decker , M., Scheifer, G. & Bulander , R., 2006. Specific Challenges for Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in M-Business, A suitable Framework for Mobile Service. Setubal, Portugal, INSTICC Press, pp. 169-174.
[22] Fallon, M. & Moran, P., 2000. Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Manufacturing in SMEs. Manchester, s.n., pp. 100-109.
[23] Zarook, T., Rahman, M. M. & Khanam, R., 2013. The Impact of Demographic factors on Accessing Finance in Libya's SMEs. International Jounral of Business and Management, 8(14), pp. 56-57.
[24] Harindranath, G., Dyerson, R. & Barnes, D., 2006. ICT In Small Firms: Factors Affecting The Adoption And Use Of ICT in Southeast England SMEs. pp. 1-12.
[25] Southern, A. & Tilley, F., 2000. Small Firms and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): Toward a Typology of ICTs Usage. New Technology, Work and Employment , 15(2), pp. 138-154.
[26] Brock, J. K. (2000). Information and communication technology in the small firm. Enterprise and small business: Principles, practice and policy, 384-408.
[27] Bharati, P. & Chaudhury, A., 2010. IT adoption in small and mediumsized enterprises: the role of knowledge acquistion. Lima, Peru, s.n., pp. 12-15.
[28] Hollenstein, H. (2004). Determinants of the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT): an empirical analysis based on firmlevel data for the Swiss business sector. Structural change and economic dynamics, 15(3), 315-342.
[29] Smyth, M., & Ibbotson, P. 2001. Internet connectivity in Ireland. a joint report by the Bank of Ireland and the University of Ulster, URL (consulted December 2001): uk/whats_new/item. php.
[30] Packalen, K., 2010. ICT capabilities and possibilities in micro-firms: a study of micro-firms in the Aland Islands archipelago. Slovenia, s.n.
[31] Jones, P., Davies , B. P. & Muir, E., 2003. E-business barriers to grwoth within the SME sector. Journal of Systems and Information Technology, 7(1), pp. 1-25.
[32] Irefin, A., Abdul-Azeez, A. & Tijani, A., 2012. An Investigative Study Of The Factors Affecting The Adoption Of Information Communication Technology In Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Nigeria. Australian Journal of Business and Management Research, 2(02), pp. 1- 9.
[33] Mpofu, K. C., Milne, D. & Mathys, L. W., 2011. ICT Adoption and Development of E-business among SMEs in South Africa. pp. 1-20.
[34] Koshy, P., 2011. Adoption of information and communications technology in rural micro and small medium enterprises (MSEs): Case of MSEs in South Indian State of Kerala, India. Institute for Development Studies and Enterprise Research, Issue 2, pp. 1-43.
[35] Kaynak, E., Tatoglu, E. & Kula, V., 2005. An analysis of the factors of the factors affecting the adoption of electronic commerce by SMEs, Evidence from an emerging market. International marketing review, 22(6), pp. 623-650.
[36] Grandon, E. & Pearson, J., 2004. Electronic commerce adoption: an empirical study of small and medium US businesses. Information & Management, 42(97), pp. 197-216.
[37] Lowry , G., Singh, M. & Scollary, A., 1999. Electronic commerce initiatives in Australia: Identifying opportunity, meeting challenges and measuring success. Proceedings of the 10th Australasian Conference on Information Systems. s.l., s.n.
[38] Taylor, M. & Murphy, A., 2004. SMEs and e-business. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 11(3), pp. 280-289.
[39] Matapoulos, A., Vlachopolou, M. & Manthou, V., 2009. 2009. Understanding the factors affecting e-business adoption and impact on logistics processes, pp. 1-12.
[40] Nath, R. et al., 1998. Electronic Commerce and the Internet: Issues, Problems and Perspectives. Internal Journal of Information Management, 18(2), pp. 91-101.
[41] Dixon, T., Thompson, B. and McAllister, P. 2002. The Value of ICT for SMEs in the UK A critical literature review: Research, Small Business Service: Sheffield
[42] Lee, S. C., 2001. An analytical Framework for Evaluating E-commerce Business Models and Strategies. Internet Research: Electronic Network Applications and Policy, 11(4), pp. 349-359.
[43] Bower, L. J. & Christensen, M. C., 1995. Disruptive technoloiges: catching the wave. Harvard Business Review, pp. 43-53.
[44] Johnson, M., 2010. Barriers to innovation adoption: a study of emarkets. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 110(2), pp. 157-174.
[45] Toussea, A. O., 2007. Information technology transfer: problems facing African developing nations. International Journal of Human Computer Interaction, Volume 3, pp. 79-93.
[46] Pesonen, T. & Smolander , K., 2011. Observations on e-Business Implementation Capabilities in Hterogeneous Business Networks. pp. 212-226.
[47] Tewksbury, R., 2009. Qualitative versus Quantitative Methods: Understanding why Qualitative Methods are Superior for Criminology and Criminal Justice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 1(1), pp. 38-58.
[48] Mathers , N., Fox, N. & Hunn, A., 1998. Using Interviews in a Research Project. Trent Focus for Research and Development in Primary Health care , pp. 1-24.
[49] Ballou, J., 2008. Open-ended Question. In: P. J. Lavrakas , ed. Thousand Oaks, CA, US: SAGE Publications, pp. 547-549.
[50] Oates, B., 2006. Researching Information Systems and Computing. London, England: SAGE Publications.
[51] Turner, J.R., Ledwith, A. and Kelly, J. 2009, Project management in small and medium-sized enterprises: a comparison between firms by size and industry, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 282-296