Factors affecting the e-business systems adoption process in Saudi small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
2017-02-28T03:03:02Z (GMT) by
Electronic business (e-business) systems are important for SMEs operating in Saudi Arabia. Despite its importance, little is known about how SMEs operating in Saudi Arabia (which has some unique SME characteristics) approach e-business systems adoption process. Much of the current e-business literature focuses on the adoption decision of e-business systems. As e-business systems are complex and inter-organisational in nature, an improved understanding can be developed when adoption process of these systems is considered as a temporal process involving multiple stages. Relatively limited empirical research is however reported that focuses on the multiple stages of the e-business systems adoption process. This is particularly true for Saudi Arabia in which SMEs are expressing an interest in e-business systems adoption. Motivated by these concerns, this study examines the e-business adoption process among Saudi SMEs by developing a three-stage e-business adoption model which is rooted in the ideas borrowed from the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) literature. The model incorporates a total of 19 ‘stage specific’ factors and 10 ‘common’ factors identified from various streams of literature. The model was then evaluated using an online experts panel and a case study in which 20 SMEs from Saudi Arabia participated. The case study findings indicate that a total of 14 ‘stage specific’ factors (i.e. compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability, perceived e-business attributes, availability of technical expertise, knowledgeable employee attitude toward technology, communication, customer readiness, security concerns, high competence in IS, perceived e-business value, owner attitude toward technology, and training) are important for Saudi SMEs to adopt e-business systems. In addition, eight ‘common’ factors (i.e. cost, relative advantage, management support, external pressure, owner-manager characteristic, organisational readiness and awareness, trading partners’ readiness, and organisational culture) are important for Saudi SMEs to adopt e-business systems. Interestingly, some differences are noted in the influence of these factors among SMEs across the manufacturing and service sectors. The research model and the case study findings are useful. The model assists researchers in understanding the e-business systems adoption process in SMEs based on the notion of a ‘stage model’ approach. Knowledge of the factors supported through the case study provides useful guidelines for those SMEs which are contemplating the introduction of e-business systems for the first time. These guidelines identify those specific factors which SME management should care for during each of the three stages of the e-business systems adoption initiatives in their companies. This will in turn facilitate eventual implementation success of e-business systems for the SME context. E-business researchers are encouraged to replicate this study to other countries particularly for those in the Arabian Gulf region.