Effects of Internal and External Factors on Internet-Based Digital Technology Usage by SMEs in a Developing Country

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Internet based digital technology has become an inevitable part of human life in the 21st Century. The wide and rapidly increased adoption and usage of various facets of information and communication technology (ICT) in general and Internet based digital technology (IBDT) in particular, by individuals, government organizations and businesses attract researchers from multidisciplinary field of study to look at its adoption and diffusion phenomena around the world. In the past few years, a bulk of research initiatives have inquired into IBDT adoption and usage, an advanced and extended use of ICT, such as the Internet, online communication, online transactions, e-commerce, e-tax, e-service, enterprise systems and so on, and propose a wide range of research guidelines and theoretical models to look at the issue.

The number of research initiatives looking at ICT adoption and diffusion phenomena, both from individual and from organization perspectives, suggests a new direction of ICT research assuming that the adoption and diffusion related research has reached its saturation stage (Parker & Castleman, 2007). However, notably, the previous researches mostly favor the thought that organizations adopt technology that is useful and provides them with some economic benefit while, although important, the non-economic factors such as cultural and environmental factors were overlooked (Thatcher, Foster, & Zhu, 2006). Apart from the study contents, most of the theoretical frameworks and conceptual models of the previous ICT studies focus on the developed countries perspective, particularly, an American perspective (Zhu & Kraemer, 2005) while the developing country perspective is not well addressed.

Internet based digital technology usage by individuals and organizations takes an increased pace in the second half of the 1980s with the invention of the Internet as a public network and it achieves a new momentum in the second half of the 1990s when commercial use of the internet protocol is licensed. Until the end of the 1990s, the growth of IBDT usage was observed to be significantly high as in developed countries than in developing countries. Numerous research initiatives were undertaken during this period to look at the phenomena from developed countries' perspectives (Agarwal & Prashad, 1997, 1998, 1999; Davis, 1993; Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989; Kendall, Tung, Chua, Ng & Tan, 2001; Mathieson, 1991; Moore & Benbasat, 1991; Sathye & Beal, 2001; Tan & Teo, 2000; Taylor & Todd, 1995a, 1995b; Venkatesh, Brown, Maruping & Bala 2008; Venkatesh & Davis, 2000, Venkatesh & Morris, 2000, Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis, 2003). A successful experience of IBDT usage in developed countries, in turn encourages individuals and organizations to adopt the technology in developing countries. In recent years, a phenomenal growth has been observed in the developing countries IBDT adoption and usage.

At the end of 2011, nearly 2.267 billion people or 32.7 percent of the total populations of the world had access to the Internet. This represents an increase of 528.1 percent over the year 2000. Asian countries account for 789.6 percent of the growth while the rest of the world grew by nearly 406.9 percent in the same period; its total number of Internet users stands at 1,016 million or 44.8 percent of world's total Internet users (Internet World Stats, 2012). Internet use in Bangladesh is likewise growing. The total Internet population of the country stands at 100,000 in 2000 (Azam, 2007), and it reached 450,000 in 2007 (Azam & Quaddus, 2009a, 2009b) which indicates a 450% rise in the Internet population. At the end of 2011, the total Internet population reaches 5,501,609 which reflects 3.5 percent Internet penetration.

Further, the country is going to launch Internet based digital technology in various sectors such as e-business, e-tender, e-tax, e-services. …