Determinants of Small Business Internet Usage: A Multi-method Investigation of Perceived Benefits 1

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1 Determinants of Small Business Internet Usage: A Multi-method Investigation of Perceived Benefits 1 Simpson Poon School of Information Technology Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn Australia 3122 Department of Information Systems Monash University Caulfield East Australia 3145 Paula M.C. Swatman Assoc. Prof. and Acting Head Department of Information Systems Monash University Caulfield East Australia 3145 Abstract Small business Internet usage has gained much popularity among researchers in Information Systems and Entrepreneurship over recent years with many undertaking surveys of small businesses or Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The newness and dynamic nature of this area, however, means that multiple research methods are needed to obtain an in-depth understanding of the key issues. In this paper, we demonstrate that by combining survey techniques with case study research, we can shed light on issues such as: organisational characteristics with which Internet adoption is associated and directions for change; the true reasons behind the claim of improved competitive advantage. These findings provide a foundation for a robust research framework of small business Internet use, although further refinement is still required before the framework can be completed. 1 This paper was published in the proceedings of "Bled'97-10th International Conference on Electronic Commerce, Bled, Slovenia, June 9-11,

2 Introduction Since the commercialisation of the Internet in 1992, this global network of networks has become a business tool instead of merely a research network and businesses both large and small have seized the opportunity to explore the ways in which it can assist them to become more productive and competitive. The mass media, indeed, encouraging this exploration, speculates that the Internet will allow businesses to access a global-wide customer base of many millions. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that while there may be many users of the Internet and while the potential for doing business with these users exists, obtaining business directly from the Internet is not as simple as was first thought. Blatant advertising and broadcasting make-money-fast opportunities, for example, tend to attract disapproval rather than actual business from their recipients. But does this mean that the once-promising global network has lost its charm, or merely that harnessing the potential of the Internet requires a more in-depth learning process? The development of newer concepts such as intranets (or extranets) provides opportunities to exploit Internet technology beyond the concept of a common global network into enterprise-wide networks and interorganisational systems. Clearly, such networks and systems are of great interest to large, multi-national corporations which can leverage their existing technological infrastructure to build sophisticated customersupport systems. But what are the effects on small businesses? Can they use the Internet to become more competitive and responsive to the global market? What are the realities of global life; and the barriers faced by small businesses attempting to use the Internet? According to the Australian Government review on small businesses, growth of employment among small businesses has increased between 3-33%, depending on the industry sector (DIST, 1995). Small businesses are an interesting but often a neglected business group when we come to the study of IT adoption and use. They are interesting because of their ability to innovate and be dynamic in their business operations. Often such abilities make them agile competitors to large corporations in niche markets, even though they may not always turn out be the winners of such competitions. The differences in organisational characteristics and approach to business problems render many of the theories derived from studies of large corporations inappropriate when applied to small firms (Dandridge, 1979; Welsh and White, 1981). This group is neglected because, in many cases, IT systems in small firms are unsophisticated lessening their interest for researchers of IT implementation and use. Of course, the predominant reason for such software is cost: small businesses have neither the resources to adopt nor the need to use large-scale IT systems. The Internet, however, has changed this situation to a considerable degree. The Internet potentially can be used by small businesses to support external (inter-organisational and enterprise-to-consumer) business functions as well as internal business functions. Although using IT (e.g. phone and fax) to support inter-organisational business functions is not new, never before have small businesses been able to afford a global computer network as powerful and far-reaching, yet as accessible and cheap to use. Even more importantly, small businesses are not coerced into using the Internet as has been the case in many instances of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) relationships (see, for example, Iacovou, et al., 1995), but rather have the opportunity to explore the potential of this future commerce environment at their leisure. Earlier research into small business and IT has identified a number of factors which are important for IT success among small firms. These factors include management enthusiasm and leadership, use of IT consultants to provide know-how, competition and user participation (see, for example, Raymond, 1985; Martin, 1989; Yap, Soh and Raman, 1992; or Cragg and Zinatelli, 1995). If the IT system extends beyond the organisational boundary, as in the case of EDI, then organisational readiness and external pressure are also important factors for IT adoption (Swatman and Everett, 1991; Iacovou et al, 1995). More recent research on the topic of the Internet and small businesses points to the importance of training and demonstrated benefits (Barker, 1994; Fuller and Jenkins, 1995; Parker and Swatman, 1995;1996), while another view suggests that competitive advantage and competitor benchmarking are key issues in Internet use (Cronin et al., 1995). It is also apparent that most governments in the industrialised world see small business use of the Internet (or their so called information superhighway) as an important

3 infrastructure to accomplish international trading (Poon and Swatman, 1995). Empirical studies on this issue have been published over the past twelve months (see, for example, Poon and Swatman, 1996; Abell and Lim, 1996; Golden, 1996; Lymer, 1996; Sieber, 1996). Bearing in mind the findings of these researchers, we decided to investigate the important issues affecting the current and future use of the Internet. Over the last twelve months, we have carried out two research projects a survey followed by a series of case studies on a number of Australian small businesses which are active Internet users. In the remainder of this paper we demonstrate the benefits we gained from integrating and triangulating data obtained from the two research studies to bring out issues such as organisational factors, business drivers, competitive advantage and the role of entrepreneurship on the use of the Internet by small businesses. Although we do not have the space in a single paper to present the details of each individual study, interested readers are referred to the earlier papers (Poon and Swatman, 1996; Poon and Swatman, 1997a; 1997b) for the results of the survey and the case studies, respectively. It should be noted that these two research projects form a part of a longer-term research programme investigating strategic use of the Internet by small business. Research Methods Due to the newness of the research area when we first started investigating small business and Internet use, we decided initially to obtain a profile of those small businesses in Australia which were Internet users. This was done by surveying a number of small businesses already actively involved with the Internet. For each firm, demographic information such as size (measured by number of employees and annual turnover), industry sector and number of years in business together with data communications capability, ways of communicating with business partners (which also included customers and suppliers) and sources of information for business decisions were obtained. We also enquired into their reasons for adopting the Internet as part of the organisation s IT structure. During the process of selecting participants for this exploratory study, we first tried to gain as great an understanding as possible of the firm s activities by using the Internet. This was normally done by browsing the firm s webpage, downloading information available through the Internet (such as newsletters), or through the firm s participation in Internet mailing lists. To summarise the major purposes of this exploratory study, we intended: to gain an overall but comprehensive understanding of the kind of small businesses which were using the Internet and how well equipped they are for data communications to identify drivers which led to the firm s adoption of the Internet to survey the extent to which the Internet was used to support business activities with the firm s trading partners to compare Internet usage with other means of communication, such as the postal services and the telephone. We also used the results of this survey to: build up a repository of ways in which a small business can approach using the Internet effectively for its business operations establish contacts with participants with whom we could conduct a more in-depth study of the dynamics of Internet use provide preliminary data to be used as a source for triangulating results from a subsequent case study. Integrating and triangulating results obtained using different research methods has been mentioned in both organisational and information systems research (see, for example, Kaplan and Duchon, 1988; Lee, 1991; Gable, 1994). Gable (1994) showed that by combining the case study method with survey research, he was able to provide a richer source of data and, through triangulation, to test propositions or patterns with both qualitative and quantitative data. Our experience agrees with Gable s in that cross-referencing of data and

4 using both quantitative and qualitative data to strengthen our understanding of our subject of study is vitally important to gain multi-dimensional understanding of complex research contexts. After obtaining quantitative data from the survey (Poon and Swatman, 1996), we invited a subgroup of survey participants (twenty-three small businesses) to become involved in an in-depth case study (Poon and Swatman, 1997). We deliberately chose our participants in such a way that we could have a representative sample. This was done by randomly picking businesses which fitted the Australian Bureau of Statistics (DIST, 1995) definition of small business from the Internet while endeavouring simultaneously to ensure that the selection was not dominated by a particular industrial group. In essence this definition describe a small business as: manufacturing organisations employing less than 100 people; construction and service sector organisations employing less than 20 people; and agricultural firms where the value of agricultural operations is between $20,000 and $400, 000. small businesses are independently owned, they are financially controlled by the owner/manager and the business operations are usually locally based. In this way, we were hoping to detect the similarities and differences which have contributed to the positive outlook of small firms toward Internet use. Our criteria for selection in the case study group were: positive outlook on Internet use, a balance of different business sectors and willingness to participate. Using the survey data as a basis, we interviewed these participants to obtain information which enabled us to bridge gaps in our understanding of why their outlook on Internet use had been positive. Through discussion with the respondents (mostly the owner of a small business), we managed to gain further insight into the dynamics of Internet use and, at the same time, qualify the survey data in the context of the respondent and his/her business situation. These two projects, then, form Phase I of a long-term research programme into strategic Internet use by small businesses and has led to the development of a tentative framework (and associated hypotheses) of business drivers for Internet use. Phase II, currently under development, will involve the conduct of a further study to provide a longitudinal view of ongoing Internet use, where the hypotheses will be used to test the validity of the framework and otherwise improve on it. Figure 1 illustrates the overall research programme, in a somewhat simplistic manner. Phase I Survey research Case study research Phase II longitudinal study & hypothesis generation Figure 1. The overall research strategy

5 Gable (1994) suggested that carrying out the case study research after the survey research can prevent the case study from contributing to the model building process. In our situation, however, we believe that the survey provided us with a broad, unbiased overview and generic understanding of key issues related to small business Internet use in a non-anecdotal manner. The case study then served as a flexible and adaptive means to pursue the investigation of these issues in an in-depth manner. This approach is not uncommon particularly where the area is new and, as yet, little research has been undertaken (de Vaus, 1996). Results and Analysis Instead of reiterating the results and analysis from the survey (Poon and Swatman, 1996) or the case study research (Poon and Swatman, 1997b), we focus on the additional understanding and confidence on the reliability of such understanding brought forward by integrating and triangulating the results from both research efforts. Organisational characteristics of Internet-active small businesses One of the important contributions of the survey to our overall small business and Internet research project was to provide a profile of an Internet-active small business. At the same time, we were careful not to bias our understanding toward a particular industry sector (e.g. the software sector) knowing that some industry sectors are more ready users of the Internet, due to their strong IT dependence. Such a profiling exercise would not have been generic enough if it were done by pilot case studies only as described in Gable (1994). Data gathered included number of employees in a firm, annual turnover, number of years in business, industry sector and core products/services and helped us to focus our attention in the follow-on case study exercise. For example, we discovered that almost two-thirds (62.0%) of the respondents were directors of their firm. This led us to investigate whether this was because the survey sample was dominated by IT-aware directors, or because of their entrepreneurial instinct to adopt innovation. Through interviews and further enquiries, we discovered that only a minority of these directors had formal IT training (e.g. awarded IT qualifications). In fact, even though some of these directors were the champion in pushing for Internet adoption, they originally learned about the Internet through informal avenues (e.g. observing their children use the Internet) then followed this initial interest with hands-on experience (e.g. complimentary diskettes from Internet service providers). Their curiosity and belief that such an information infrastructure offered opportunities for them to be more competitive which drove them to adopt the Internet. A second observation from the survey results was that one to five person firms dominated the sample (51.9%). Since survey research methods generally provide poor discoverability (Gable, 1994), the subsequent case study allowed us to investigate further why such a phenomenon had arisen. Although our findings cannot be conclusive, it appears that when compared to their big corporate counterparts, these so called micro-sized businesses were more sensitive to opportunities which could extend their visibility. One of the reasons often mentioned by our participants was that if they are already having a tough game locally, they might as well extend their territory, since this could only open up more opportunities. Because of their simple organisational structure, the decision to go for Internet adoption did not require a consensus decision (i.e. the director was often the sole decision maker). The situation was different in one of our participants company, a barcoding adviser, where the IT manager was asked to evaluate the benefit of the Internet against the Value-added Network (VAN) service they were currently using, before making a recommendation to management. Important business drivers for Internet adoption The survey participants provided us with an overall ranking of business drivers for Internet adoption among our participants, which we had suggested (Poon and Swatman, 1996) after reviewing earlier literature speculating on business use of the Internet (for example, Barker, 1994; Cronin, et al., 1994). The five most important factors for adopting the Internet in their respective order were:

6 wider corporate exposure direct and indirect marketing a low cost communication medium access to potential customers company image enhancement It is not difficult to understand why these five business driverswhich somehow related to market reach, were ranked highest out of a set of sixteen (see Poon and Swatman, 1996 for the full set of business drivers) presented to the participants. After all, advertising and marketing were among the first commercial activities on the Internet and are still the most widespread. Through the use of electronic mail ( ) and, more recently, Internet phone and video-conferencing services, the Internet is now often used as a low cost communications medium particularly for long distance communication services. Using and other communication applications, the Internet can be used to contact customers in an asynchronous and nonintrusive manner. In fact, our case study showed that using the Internet as a communications medium was an important business use of the Internet. What is interesting was that online sales and transaction and using the Internet as a product delivery channel were ranked as two of the five lowest business drivers, although Benjamin and Wigand (1995) suggested that these two factors would have major impacts on the current business transaction models and future of electronic commerce. During the interviews, we discovered that many of these small businesses, except those involved in direct sales, generally stick to the deliver and invoice business model. Customers were invoiced for services/products rendered and payments were received in the form of cheque, cash or credit accounts. Two reasons were generally nominated for the current unattractiveness of Internet payment systems: firstly, the lack of transaction services (as compared to using a bank in a traditional sense) on the Internet. Very few banks have their full range of banking services available on the Internet. This becomes inconvenient even if small businesses were prepared to do online transactions. Even for banks which have got Internet transaction services (e.g. Advance Bank Australia 2 ), such services are not widely advertised; secondly, those few banks which are willing to engage in electronic business transactions are having difficulty encouraging their customers to follow suit. Until very recently, there have been no incentives to encourage, or threats to coerce their customers to use Internet transaction services (even if the customers were able to do so). Security has been mentioned as one of the reasons, but more important was the traditional business culture. The recent announcement by the ANZ Banking Group (Carrigan, 1997), that it will give priority to electronic transactions in future (and will charge higher fees to those remaining with manual banking techniques), may, however, change this view. In terms of using the Internet as a product delivery channel, it is obvious that unless the products/services have high information content (e.g. software or database information), the Internet is unlikely to be able to handle the product delivery and interchange process. Apart from the physical nature of products, there are other factors which make delivery of products/services over the Internet a low priority business driver. For example, the culture which exists in a business relationship may deter the trading partners from using the Internet for such a purpose. As an example, one of our participants in the case study owns a construction design and drafting company. Although his company uses computer-aided design software to carry out the design process, most of his business partners and customers still prefer the drafts done using pencil and paper, or at least favour receiving their services on such a medium. Because of the company size, the manage lacks sufficient influence in the power-relationship to change this attitude, even though it is clear that end-toend digital document transfer over the Internet would save time and lower costs. Other barriers to using the Internet as a service delivery medium can result from legislative requirements. For example, a patent 2

7 attorney firm within the sample can only partially use the Internet to deliver its services because of legal requirements for confidentiality and wet signatures. Despite these impediments, there is no real reason why physical products should be a deterrent to using the Internet to facilitate the product delivery process. For example, in the travel industry, it is carriage on a vessel and to the destination for which the customer pays. However, customers normally would make their full payment once a booking is confirmed. This suggests that as long as the information component of a product is a guarantee of its physical counterpart in a useable condition, the Internet can still be effectively used to assist the product delivery process. Both book and CD services on the Internet, for example, are extremely popular catalogues are held on web pages and orders taken, although the physical delivery is carried out by means of snail mail. Also ranked low (in fact the lowest) on the list was to use the Internet to benchmark competitors performance. Despite the view of some researchers (see, for example, Cronin et al., 1994) that the open nature of the Internet allows firms to gather information on their competitors online, such a way of using the Internet was not considered a key reason to get connected to the Internet. There were a number of comments made but essentially: firms are now knowledgeable enough not to put sensitive company information on freely accessible websites even though dissatisfaction from customers concerning a firm maybe be voiced over the Internet (e.g. newsgroups), it is not commonly acceptable, certainly not being viewed as ethical, to overcapitalise on such opportunities (e.g. to tell the dissatisfied customers that we are better, come to us! ) it is likely to be more rewarding to find ways to improve an individual s online business effort than to prey on others misfortunes. The origins and nature of competitive advantage One of the purposes of the survey was to dispel or confirm suggestions (Singleton, 1995) that the Internet will provide small businesses with competitive advantage over their competitors. We were interested in finding out what proportion of small businesses in our sample experience a gain in competitive advantage. We also tried to distinguish the different stages in the process of gaining competitive advantage (see Table 1). Stages of gaining competitive advantage Question correspond to that stage Stage 1: Building up confidence Will gain competitive advantage in a year s time Stage 2: Experiencing Has already gained competitive advantage Stage 3: Ongoing Will sustain competitive advantage for the next two years Table 1. Questions targeting the three stages of competitive advantage development Although the total percentage of the respondents within the three stages summed to more than eighty percent (86.1%), we were curious as to what made the respondents think that they will gain or have already gained competitive advantage. Because there could be potentially a large number of reasons, we made discovering the underlining reasons one of the foci of our case study research. The case study research revealed that the key reason for the positive outlook on Internet use was mainly based on what we would describe as perceived benefits. None of the case study participants kept or managed to provide solid evidence that they were indeed better off quantitatively (e.g. more sales, financial gains, etc.) than their competitors since using the Internet. There were no comparison sales figures, customer counts or monetary evidence to show that they were better off. It is the understanding that their competitors were either not yet on the Internet, or these small firms web presence was more prominent (e.g. higher on search result lists) which led to the belief in competitive advantage. Also, we asked why, if no tangible benefit was obtained, did they not disconnect from the Internet. The responses were that as long as they can afford the charges (i.e. access and services), they would continue to remain connected. One participant saw

8 the similarity between the fax machine and Internet access and commented: we do not normally justify why we need a fax machine in financial terms, but not having a fax machine become a competitive disadvantage: this is the same reason why we use the Internet. Details of various perceived benefits were described in Poon and Swatman (1997a). These benefits include both tangible (e.g. communication costs) and intangible (e.g. new business opportunities) ones. Although many of these benefits are intangible, some participants have already experienced ways in which the Internet provided opportunities which were not otherwise easily achievable. For example, a small local law firm managed to engage in collaboration with an UK law practice because of an overseas client one of the partners at the local firm encountered a legal problem facing this overseas client to which no local expert was able to provide a satisfactory solution. He turned to a Usenet newsgroup on legal matters and posted a request for discussion. Shortly thereafter, he started to receive help from the newsgroup; and a lawyer from UK even provided leads to research materials published on the topic. Since then, the pair have worked together and a professional relationship has been formed between them. Others have gained tangible benefits. For example, a printing equipment design company has a Swiss firm as its business partner. Before connecting to the Internet, the owner of this small firm exchanged design documents with his business partner in Switzerland using fax and often postal services. Normal fax service sometimes did not provide the needed resolution for the design drafts and postal services could be slow. Changes in design often meant exchanging documents many times and, in the case of postal services, the company suffered from slow turn-around cycles. By attaching digital design documents using electronic mail, the manager was able to reduce turn-around time dramatically. More importantly, documents were now also editable and changes could be made directly to a document without ambiguity. This not only cut down on international phone costs, but also improved turn-around time for the design process. In Figure 2, we attempt to illustrate direct and indirect benefits and qualify them into short- and long-term categories the preliminary framework of small business Internet benefits. Direct benefits Examples: - Save in communication costs - Generate short term revenue Examples: - Secure returning sales - Ongoing products or services delivery Indirect benefits Examples: - Immediate business opportunities - Advertising and marketing Examples: - Ongoing business transformation - New business formation Short term Long term Figure 2. Perceived benefits versus time frame

9 Determinants of perceived benefits - A framework The six determinants we believe which poses directed influence on perceived benefits from a small business point of view are illustrated in Figure 3. Based on the findings from the two Phase I projects, we have formulated the following framework which will be used for two purposes: in our longitudinal study in Phase II, participants will be those who have already participated in the Phase I studies. The objective is to observe if the nominated determinants of perceived benefits still hold over an eighteen months period; the framework s validity will be tested on a new group of small businesses bearing similar characteristics to the existing group. This we believe is important to verify and refine the validity of the framework in an independent fashion. Industry adoption Value-chain adoption Market scope Product Characteristics Perceived benefits: (Tangible & Intangible) Management involvement Entrepreneurship Figure 3. Determinants of perceived benefits Industry adoption This determinant will include how widespread and entrenched the adoption of the Internet among the business sector which the small business belongs to. We are interested in two specific groups within the industry sector: business partners and competitors. Although business partners and competitors do not necessarily belong to the same business sector (e.g. not all law firms have other law firms as business partners), we try to include a group of firms which enjoys mutual business support but is neither supplier or customer of the small firm. This determinant examines the urge for Internet connectivity generated from the industry sector dimension (see Figure 4). Value-chain adoption

10 This determinant helps to investigate the effect of firms which interact with the small business along the value-chain (Porter and Millar, 1985). Essentially, we are interested in the effect of customer and supplier adoption of the Internet on the small business. Also interested will be whether both customer and supplier adoption have the same impact on the small business or they can be different. The value-chain dimension is illustrated in Figure 4. Competitor The industry sector dimension Supplier Small Business Customer The value-chain dimension The black arrow illustrates business interactions between the business entities linked (both on and off the Internet) Business partner Figure 4. The relationship between the industry sector and value-chain dimensions (adopted and modified from Porter and Millar, 1985) Market scope of the small business Our earlier results seem to bear evidence that the market scope which a small business is involved in have an effect on how much perceived benefit can be obtained by having an Internet connection. As small businesses starting to get involved in export and international (or even national) markets, the Internet offers direct benefits in terms of cost-savings and market communication. If a small business is only involved in local markets, then these benefits may not out-perform the telephone network and other media of exchange. Product characteristics This will include how efficient and effective in using the Internet to co-ordinate the transaction process between the sender and receiver of the product/service. Characteristics including the physical/information component (Porter and Millar, 1985), useability in electronic form, gain in effectiveness and efficiency during the transaction process, value-adding during the transaction process, and; customer preference between different forms of the same product and the related transaction process. Management involvement One observation we have made is that among our respondents and participants, many of them are owner/director who have direct involvement in acquiring Internet connectivity and using it for business. It seems that direct management intervention during the Internet adoption and usage process has an effect on the perceived benefit gained through Internet use. Earlier research findings (DeLone, 1988; Yap, et al., 1992) have confirmed that management enthusiasm and the role of product champion has a strong influence

11 on IT success among small businesses. This pattern has also been observed among our respondents and participants. Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship is defined by Drucker (1985:25) as the way an entrepreneur, often the business owner of a small company, always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. Jennings (1994: 12) suggests that entrepreneurship may include the ability to create, innovate, bear risk, manage and achieve targets. Using Drucker s and Jennings definitions, we could clearly observe entrepreneurship manifested among our Internet-active users. In this framework, we will assess the existence of positive relationship between entrepreneurship and perceived benefits. Conclusion Small business Internet use is undoubtedly a research topic demanding further attention due to its farreaching implications on national economies. At present, the majority of research into small business Internet use has been survey-based. While we agree that surveys are an excellent way of investigating individual market-places (as we found in our own experience), we strongly advocate the parallel use of more qualitative research techniques to provide a deeper insight into issues related to ongoing Internet success. The characteristics of these two research methods mean that they provide quite different results (surveys giving an excellent overview and throwing up issues requiring additional investigation, while case studies enable in-depth analysis of particular issues). Integrating and triangulating the results from these two differing but complementary types of studies, allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of issues related to this research topic. Clearly, we now require further work to test the preliminary framework generated from these two studies, but we believe that we have gained a richer understanding of our entrepreneurial, Internet-active small businesses than we would have been able to achieve using either methodology alone. The conclusion of Phase I of this research programme will involve us in: completing our framework, which presently describes only the benefits of Internet usage, so as to describe the relationship between all issues identified and the ongoing success of Internet use developing a set of hypotheses which can be tested in Phase II of the programme. As a result of this first phase, however, we have also identified entrepreneurship as a factor affecting the success of Internet use among small businesses and will be investigating the importance of this factor in the later stages of the project. References 1. Abell, W. and Lim, L. (1996) Business Use of the Internet in New Zealand: An Exploratory Study. 2. Barker, N. (1994) The Internet as a Reach Generator for Small Business. Unpublished Masters Thesis, Business School, University of Durham. 3. 9Carrigan, J. (1997) Electronic way is money in the bank. The Age, C5, (27th Jan). 4. Cragg, P. B. and Zinatelli, N. (1995) The evolution of information systems in small firms. Information and Management, 29(1), Cronin, B., Overfelt, K., Fouchereaux, K., Manzvanzvike, T., Cha, M. and Sona, E. (1994) The Internet and Competitive Intelligence: A Survey of Current Practice. International Journal of Information Management, 14: Dandridge, T. C. (1979) Children are not Little Grown-Ups : Small business needs its own organizational theory. Journal of Small Business Management, 17, Apr, DeLone, W. (1988) Determinants of Success for Computer Usage in Small Business. MIS Quarterly, Mar, De Vaus D.A. (1995) Surveys in Social Research (4th edition). Allen and Unwin, Australia.

12 9. DIST (1995) Small Business in Australia - Fifth Annual Review. DIST, Australia 10. Drucker, P. F. (1985) Innovation and entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles. William Heinemann, UK. 11. Fuller, T. and Jenkins, A. (1995) Public Intervention in Entrepreneurial Innovation and Opportunism: Short Cuts or Detours to The Information Superhighway?. Babson Entrepreneurship Conference, London Business School, (April 9-13). 12. Gable, G. G. (1994) Integrating Case Study and Survey Research Methods: An Example in Information Systems. European Journal of Information Systems, 3(2), Golden, W. (1996) Electronic Commerce at Work: Kennys Bookshop & Art Galleries, Galway, Ireland in the Proceedings of the Nineth International Conference on EDI-IOS (eds.) Swatman, P.M.C. et al., Slovenia, Iacovou, C. L. Benbasat, I. and Dexter, A. S. (1995) Electronic Data Interchange and Small Organisations: Adoption and Impact of Technology. MIS Quarterly, Dec, Jennings, D.F. (1994) Multiple Perspectives of Entrepreneurship: Text, Readings and Cases. South- Western, Ohio, USA. 16. Kaplan, B. and Duchon, D (1988) Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in information systems research: a case study. MIS Quarterly, 12(4), Lee, A.S. (1989) A scientific methodology for MIS case studies. MIS Quarterly 13(1), Lymer, A., Johnson, R. and Nayak, A. (1996) The Internet and the Small Business: Case Studies in business development and technology in the Proceedings of the 19th ISBA National Small Firms and Research Conference. Birmingham, UK. 19. Martin, C.J. (1989) Information Management in the Smaller Business: The Role of the Top Manager. International Journal of Information Management, 9, Parker C.M. and Swatman P.M.C. (1995) Educating Tomorrow's Managers for Telecommunications and EDI: A Cross-Cultural Experience, Journal of Information Technology and People, Vol. 8, No. 2, Parker C.M. and Swatman P.M.C. (1996) TREAT: Promoting SME Adoption of EDI through Education, Proc Conf HICSS-29" Proceedings of the 29th Hawaii International Conference on Systems and Software, Hawaii, January, Poon, S. and Swatman, P.M.C. (1995) The Internet for Small Businesses: an enabling infrastructure for competitiveness. Proceedings of the Fifth Internet Society Conference, Hawaii, Poon, S. and Swatman, P.M.C. (1996) Electronic Networking Among Small Business in Australia - An Exploratory Study in the Proceedings of the Nineth International Conference on EDI-IOS (eds.) Swatman, P.M.C. et al., Slovenia, Poon, S. and Swatman, P.M.C. (1997a) Internet-based Small Business Communication: Seven Australian Cases in the Proceedings of the PACIS 97, Brisbane, Australia (forthcoming). 25. Poon, S. and Swatman, P.M.C. (1997b) A case study on the emerging issues on small business Internet use. Working Paper Series, Centre for Information Systems Research, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. 26. Raymond, L. (1985) Organizational Characteristics and MIS Success in the Context of Small Business. MIS Quarterly, Mar, Sieber, P. (1996) Virtuality as Strategic Approach for Small and Medium Sized IT Companies to Stay Competitive in a Global Market in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Sytems, Ohio, Cleveland. 28. Singleton, A. (1995) The Virtual Shopfront. BYTE, 20(1), , (Jan). 29. Swatman P.M.C. and Everett J.E. (1991) Australian Involvement in Electronic Data Interchange ', Australian Computer Journal, 23(1), Welsh, J. A. and White, J. F. (1981) A Small Business is not a Little Big Business. Harvard Business Review, 59(4), Yap, C. S., Soh, C. P. P. and Raman, K. S. (1992) Information Systems Success Factors in Small Business. OMEGA International Journal of Management Sciences, 20(5-6),

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