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Title: Social media : a business imperative for Irish SMEs
Author: Broom, Jason William
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 363X
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2017
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Over the last decade, social media technologies have risen in popularity among business practitioners as well as receiving increased academic attention. This thesis investigates social media's use within Irish SME business activities. The research explores the drivers, challenges, and impacts of social media adoption within this context. Grounded in technology acceptance, diffusion, and dynamic capability theories, this provides a framework that appreciates SMEs internal mechanisms and external environments. These theories consider the impact of SME resources/capabilities on technology adoption and implementation; they also contemplate social media as a technology and its impacts. Employing a two-phase sequential mixed methods methodology, phase one is a quantitative exploration (online questionnaire); this informs phase two as it provides key themes that guide semi-structured interviews. Such an approach creates a flexible study that delivers a holistic understanding of the research phenomenon. The sample is derived from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland SMEs operating within retail; accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and professional service sectors. Several important conclusions are drawn. Firstly, SMEs adopt social media to improve certain aspects of their business including branding and accessibility. Secondly, they are influenced by external pressure from competitors and customers. Thirdly, challenges were largely a result of resource constraints. Nevertheless, they attain several favourable outcomes regarding their social media use including marketing improvements. Finally, there are five key factors of influence within SME social media use; operational benefits, social media marketing, social media challenges, external environmental drivers, and internal business efficiencies. Theoretically, this research confirms, disconfirms, and extends existing literature relating to technology adoption, diffusion, and dynamic capability theory within the current studies context. On a practical level, several recommendations have been made including how to overcome social media challenges. One such example is reconfiguring staff to better manage social media content and interactions. Another is growing knowledge to overcome challenges in measuring social media returns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available