A stakeholder approach to electronic commerce diffusion
The evolution of electronic commerce as a global technological innovation raised a number of issues related to its adoption. Specifically, although electronic commerce use by companies has been associated with significant opportunities for growth, it has not been adopted in full. Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in particular seem to hesitate to invest in electronic commerce technologies for reasons related to lack of awareness and concerns about security, human resources and cost. This phenomenon points to a need for effective electronic commerce diffusion strategies by policy makers in various levels of decision-making. This research recognises the importance of electronic commerce and realises the difficulties involved in its effective adoption. For that reason it offers an in-depth study of the electronic commerce diffusion process by examining the roles, activities and relationships of the entities involved in this process. Theories that support the research effort are innovation diffusion and stakeholder theories, which are synthesised in order to develop a framework that illustrates how the gaps in the literature can be bridged and how it can be used as an instrument to guide empirical work in the field of electronic commerce diffusion. The empirical contexts of the research are two projects on electronic commerce diffusion, which are analysed using an interpretive and qualitative research approach. The study concludes with specific implications for stakeholders involved in the provision of information and advice about electronic commerce and related consequences for diffusion receivers. The findings of this research can be useful for all stakeholders in the field, as they can get a better understanding of their own position as well as that of other actors in the context. Additionally, researchers in similar areas can find this work useful as a way to approach the study of the diffusion.