An empirical investigation of competency factors affecting e-business success in European SMEs Tom R. Eikebrokk, Dag H. Olsen * Department of Information Systems, Agder University College, Serviceboks 422, N-4604 Kristiansand, Norway Received 8 June 2005; received in revised form 5 February 2007; accepted 17 February 2007 Available online 5 June 2007 Abstract In the last decade there was growing interest in strategic management literature about factors that influence a company’s ability to use IT.
There is general consensus that knowledge and competency are necessary in developing an IT capability, but there is very little understanding of what the necessary competencies are, and how they influence IS usage in different contexts.
The small and medium-sized enterprise context is particularly interesting for two reasons: it constitutes a major part of the economy and it has been relatively unsuccessful in exploiting e-business. We explored the relationship between e-business competency and its success in European SMEs.
A literature review was used to determine factors representing e-business competency, and develop hypotheses, which were tested using data collected from 339 SMEs in Europe.
Our results provide evidence on the importance of certain e-business competencies on e-business success, and have implications for both research and practice in the field of SMEs. # 2007 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved. Keywords: E-business competency; SMEs; E-business success; E-business strategy; IT-business process integration 1. Introduction Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are a major part of the industrial economies.
Their survival and growth has therefore been a prominent issue, and considerable research has been initiated to determine e-business diffusion in SMEs. It has been assumed that success of e-business in the SME segment will increase a country’s competitiveness, and that successful adoption and use of e-business technology are crucial for survival .
However, several studies have indicated that SMEs are sometimes unable to adopt and use e-business technology successfully. A number of studies have emphasized lack of e-business competency (see, e. g. [28,34]) as the major cause of this.
Such competency is viewed as important not only for understanding the implications of e-business but also for developing the capabilities needed to perform well . However, we have found no published systematic empirical work that identifies critical competencies for the successful adoption and use of e-business in SMEs. A number of researchers have emphasized the role of competencies for achieving and sustaining competitive advantage (see, e. g. . The majority of these contributions have taken a resource-based perspective of the firm. Understanding and leveraging resources and ompetencies in the organization are essential for effective strategic management . E-business usually implies a rethinking of business models, the network, and system infrastructure. Therefore, only businesses with access to significant e-business competency can expect to succeed with their efforts . www. elsevier. com/locate/im Information & Management 44 (2007) 364–383 * Corresponding author. Tel. : +47 38 14 17 06; fax: +47 38 14 10 29. E-mail address: Dag. H. [email protected] no (D. H. Olsen). 0378-7206/$ – see front matter # 2007 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved. doi:10. 1016/j. im. 2007. 02. 004