Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Analysis of Explanatory and Predictive Architectures and the Relevance in Explaining the Adoption of IT in SMEs

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Analysis of Explanatory and Predictive Architectures and the Relevance in Explaining the Adoption of IT in SMEs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Irrespective of size, contemporary firms' survival and growth amidst stiff global competition depends largely on their ability to exploit the ample advantages of Information Technology (IT). Information Technology (IT) has revolutionized and brought exponential changes in every sphere of life (Mancini, 2009); thus firms must remain strategic and entrepreneurial in their quest to achieve their objectives. The global competitive environment constantly provides business opportunities, and perhaps challenges, that apparently remain unexploited by SMEs (Ramdani, Kawalek, & Lorenzo, 2009). Information Technology (IT) turns the world flat (Israel, 2007), describes interactions between technical and social systems (Lee, 2001), and offers a wide range of functions that can be exploited by both large corporations and SMEs. Essentially, firms adopting IT infrastructures have the potential to build enduring customer relationships and achieve competitive advantage. Often, the exploitation of Information Technology (IT) opportunities is hampered or encouraged by some social, organizational, economic factors (Chuang, Nakatani, & Zhou, 2009; Esteves, 2009; Federici, 2009; Shiau, Hsu, & Wang, 2009). Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are known to be highly idiosyncratic and complex in their social formation evidenced by their interpersonal relationships with owner families, friends, and other businesses that influence their corporate behaviors (Beckinsale, Levy, & Powell, 2006; Parker & Castleman, 2009). These explain why bigger organizations differ significantly from SMEs in their information-seeking practices (Ramdani et al., 2009) and thus research findings on IT adoption in large corporations are yet to find fruitful applications among SMEs (Thong, 1999). This low level IT diffusion among SMEs is worrisome as it affects the development of healthy economies.

Literature provides some specific theoretical frameworks that offer explanatory and predictive insights into IT acceptance in organizations. Most of them concentrate on motivating and/or inhibiting factors affecting IT adoption (e.g.; Brown & Knewkitipond, 2009; Quaddus & Hofmeyer, 2007; Roberts & Toleman, 2007). Perceived benefits, organizational size and readiness, and external pressure (Mehrtens, Cragg, & Mills, 2001); location, operational supports, cost reduction and social approval (Holsapple & Sena, 2005; Shiau et al., 2009); and application complexity and the provider perspective (Grandon & Pearson, 2004) are among the major factors in the IT adoption models. Further, a new micro-organizational research emphasis is on the influence of top management team (TMT) and owner-families on Information Technology (IT) adoption.

Unfortunately, there is no one theory that does complete justice to explaining and predicting the extent of IT adoption by all SMEs. Recognizing that studies on Information Technology (IT) adoption differ in terms of the underlying theories and technologies investigated (Chuang et al., 2009), some of the theories have been improved and even integrated to provide stronger explanatory and predictive values. Perhaps because of researchers' customary inclination to the technology acceptance model (TAM), most existing Information Technology (IT) studies focused primarily upon reviewing literature on technology acceptance instead of providing a comprehensive review on broader issues (Williams, Dwivedi, Lal, & Schwarz, 2009). Review and meta-analysis of this nature unravels under-explored research issues, selects theories and methods appropriate for investigation (Williams et al., 2009), identifies strengths and weaknesses of pertinent research streams, promote discussion on critical issues and identifies alternative theoretical and methodological perspectives. The suitability of any frameworks is assessed by the extent to which they help in theorizing the Information Technology (IT) artifact. …

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