SMEs offline: why? : A multiple-case study of Swedish micro SMEs
The Internet is becoming a more and more influencing factor in our everyday life. It affects many of our daily tasks and it is a determining factor we built our decisions on. Especially in Sweden, retrieving information about products or services online prior to the purchase is a matter of course and emphasizes therefore its importance. A website offers a costefficient potential for smaller firms with limited resources to be visible for consumers and to compete on the larger market. However, the website adoption has been neglected amongst 41% of Swedish micro Small- and Medium sized Enterprises (SME), which raises the question why this phenomenon exists. Existing literature does not provide a solid explanation of this occurrence and this is where our study steps in. In order to answer our research question and to fill this gap, the study is designed as a qualitative multiple-case study with twelve semi-structured interviews conducted amongst the owner-managers of micro SMEs in different parts of Sweden. The study aims to fill the theoretical gap by identifying and explaining the reasons why micro SMEs in Sweden do not adopt a website. The empirical contribution is the development of managerial recommendations about how micro SMEs can overcome the barriers to adopt a website.
This research was guided by a conceptual framework, including strategic, consumer and customer, communication and interaction perspectives, as well as the perspective of the perception of websites. In order to carry out a profound analysis, we decided to apply two steps. The first step of the analysis was to connect the themes itself to theory in order to explore what the collected data represents so that reasons explaining why micro SMEs do not adopt a website could be found. The second step of the analysis included the exploration of the identified reasons in order to understand why these exist. The results from this study are expressed as six reasons why the owner-managers of micro SMEs in Sweden have not adopted a website. These reasons are: a wrong perception of a website, the lack of resources and competences, precaution, being a contractor to an umbrella company, being unaware of a website’s impact on the business and having successful network and offline-communication methods. The findings leave practitioners and researchers with an idea about what reasons are leading owners of micro SMEs to neglect a website and why these reasons exist.
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