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Title: Broadband adoption and diffusion : a study of Irish SMEs
Author: Doherty, Eileen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 7155
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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This research examines the adoption and diffusion of broad band technology by Small-to- Medium-Sized-Enterprises (SMEs) on the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). The dearth of literature in this area acted as a catalyst for this study which endeavours to address a current gap in academic research and literature - in particular with reference to the Irish case and in respect of the SME, this research is justified and indeed timely. The strident advances made over the last decade in the development of the Internet and associated technologies have, from a micro perspective transformed, the nature of day-to-day business activity. From a macro perspective, these Internet-related technologies are key to economic growth in a region. Of fundamental importance to this economic growth is the adoption and diffusion of broad band Internet technology by SMEs., Theoretically underpinning this study, are two distinct schools of thought; technological determinism and instrumental theory. Technological determinist scholars purport that 'technology' and in particular communications technology form the basis of society past. present and future and they advocate that it is this technology which ultimately 'changes' society. Instrumental theorists proffer that technology is 'neutral' without any valuative content of its own. Consequently, these differing philosophies of technology adoption will be examined through this research process. Through adopting a sequential mixed methods approach, employing both a quantitative (questionnaire) followed by a qualitative (in-depth interview) phase in the data collection process, this study seeks to examine the extent of broad band usage, key drivers / challenges, usage, impact and the underlying factors that impact upon the adoption and diffusion of broadband technology by SMEs in Ireland. A number of important conclusions have been derived from this research: clarification that most Irish SMEs are connected to broadband Internet technology for business purposes, highlighting the importance of the owner manager in the decision to adopt the technology; more specifically, the internal factors of 'staff' and 'relative advantage' are found to be key iv factors of influence in this adoption decision. Further, those factors that are external to the firm, specifically 'suppliers', 'customers', 'competitors', 'government' and the 'media' are found to have little influence in this broadband adoption decision. The study also found that SMEs are making extensive use of the technology for their business and overall they are satisfied with the broad band service that they receive. SMEs are also seeing significant benefits following adoption of broadband, particularly in terms of the level of perceived professionalism and the overall positive impact of the technology on the efficiency and level of productivity of their firm. Resultantly, SMEs are benefiting from cost-savings and an increase in the level of profitability of their business as a consequence. Finally, a key conclusion of this study is that the 'location' of the firm and the 'length of time since adoption' of broadband technology are important factors in how the technology is used and the overall benefits gained by the SME resulting from its use. The thesis also proposes a number of practical recommendations for various stakeholders. Firstly, the practical recommendations are of value to SMEs who may be considering adoption of the technology and for those who have already adopted the technology; to advance the value that can be harnessed from its usage. Further, governmenUpolicy makers, broadband service providers and web content developers will benefit from these practical recommendations as an insight has been gained in respect of the key drivers, challenges, usage and the impact following broadband adoption by the SME. This knowledge serves to inform policy and helps focus the marketing activities of their associated products and services to the SME market. Importantly, this study also adds to the existing knowledge base through making theoretical contributions (confirmation, extension and disconfirmation) to the literature concerned with the adoption and diffusion of innovations, broadband, e-business and the greater SME research. Future studies may consider extending their scope to include other regions and perhaps employ a longitudinal approach in their research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available