How can SMEs in (Caribbean) use ICT to achieve competitive advantage?
Literature Review and Conceptual Framework
Research Philosophy and Paradigm
Sampling Techniques and Procedures
Data Analysis and Techniques
Research Ethics Codes and Policies of Research Ethics
Limitations to Methodology
Time Plan and Resources
The emergence of information and communications technologies or ICTs has a significant influence on different industries and organizations all across the globe. ICT refers to technologies, which provide access to information through the use of telecommunications (Maguire, et al., 2007; Chong, et al., 2012). Grandon and Pearson (2004) provide that ICTs are considered as such type of technology that offers organizations a huge range of hardware, telecommunications, and technology applications. This wide range of technologies and products are utilized to establish, analyze, develop, package, distribute, receive, and forward information electronically through emails, websites, social networking, and wireless communication devices. It can be said that the ICT is an important tool as it provides an opportunity for SMEs to improve their competitiveness in the areas of business (Schware, 2003; Ollo-Lopez & Aramendia-Muneta, 2012). The rapidly changing business environment of twenty first century provides the significant importance of adopting ICT to maintain the competitive edge and to establish a wider international network. Sheils, et al. (2003) highlight the effective use of information system and information technology for SMEs in terms of an opportunity for enhancing the ways of conducting business and of increasing competencies.
1.2 Research Aims and Objectives
The research aims and objectives of the proposed study are outlined as follows:
1. To identify the challenges faced by SMEs of Caribbean countries to implement ICT
2. To examine the characteristics of skills and innovation required by SMEs of Caribbean regarding implementation of ICT
3. To evaluate the solutions to overcome the challenges of implementing the ICT ins SMEs of Caribbean countries
4. To analyze the relationship between ICT skills, use, adoption patterns, and adoption categories for the SMEs of Caribbean countries
1.3 Research Questions
The research questions of the proposed study are outlined as follows:
1. What are the challenges faced by SMEs of Caribbean countries to implement ICT?
2. What are the skills and innovation required for implementing the ICT in SMEs of Caribbean countries?
3. How the challenges can be overcome to implement ICT in SMEs of Caribbean countries?
4. How the ICT skills, use, adoption patterns, and adoption categories are related for SMEs of Caribbean countries?
1.4 Research Hypothesis
The research hypothesis of the proposed study is outlined as follows:
1. There is a relationship between ICT skills and ICT use in SMEs of Caribbean countries
2. There is a relationship between ICT skills and innovation characteristics in SMEs of Caribbean countries
3. There is a relationship between ICT use at SMEs of Caribbean countries and innovation characteristics
4. There is a relationship between innovation characteristics and adopters category for SMEs of Caribbean countries
1.5 Rationale of Study
ICT is having an important position in the recent era of globalization and in the case of SMEs in Caribbean countries, implementation of ICT is important to grow to be a part of such globalized economy so as to struggle and flourish in future. The main issue that is being faced by the SMEs in Caribbean states involves the use of traditional tools to maintain the competitive position. The SMEs of Caribbean countries require to take benefits of the power of ICT for accepting the competition all across the globe. It can be said that the ICT tools are vital for maintaining the competitive position of SMEs in Caribbean countries. The reasons for which SMEs in Caribbean countries cannot implement ICT tools include the limitations in absence of trained employees and absence of tools.
Chapter 2: Literature Review and Conceptual Framework
2.1 Conceptual Framework
The rapid expansion of the internet for communication has emerged as an important procedure for organizations in SMEs as it can provide cost effective access to the economy all across the globe. The use of internet offers a platform for SMEs to participate within the global market while providing the flexibility in the nature of their business (Pavic, et al., 2007). The recent evaluation of ICTs has altered the amount of knowledge and availability of information. In other words, the concept of the Information Society is observed as the extension of post-industrial society. The main feature of the Information Society is the increase in competition between agents through innovation (Ritchie & Brindley, 2005; Ollo-Lopez & Aramendia-Muneta, 2012). The innovation refers to the capacity of managing knowledge creatively as an answer to changes in social needs and in technology. The innovation is considered as a means of promoting socioeconomic development (Maguire, et al., 2007; Lasagni, 2012; Brady, et al., 2002).
2.2 Literature Review
SMEs are a considerable part of the economy but a limited knowledge is obtainable regarding the implementation of ICTs. However, it has been observed that the relationship between the SMEs and ICTs has started to be explored (Ndou, et al., 2011). Raymond, et al. (2012), Nguyen (2009), Bidarian, et al. (2011) and Tan, et al. (2009) provide that the studies regarding the ICT adoption among SMES have increased as an information system that continues to expand in every aspect of organizational life. Gnyawali and Park (2009), Ongori and Migiro (2010), and Dyerson (2011) depict that the previous literature has suggested the need for enhancing the understanding of key elements that are being experienced involving different contexts and technologies. The reason behind using ICT is that it is a technology that smooths the progress of communication and helps in processing information through electronic means. The implementation of ICT is crucial for SMEs because it has turned out to be a foremost method and acts as an element for bringing change in organizations (Higon, 2012; Ndou, et al., 2011; Maguire, et al., 2007; Zarei, et al., 2011).
Saptadi, et al. (2012), Eze, et al. (2012), and Camacho and Dirckinck-Holmfeld (2009) highlighted that the implementation of ICT is said to be the way organizations correspond, pool resources with consumers, providers, and distributors through the technological advancements, thus, providing the capability for SMEs to take part in the globalized era. Nordman and Tolstoy (2011), and Lasagni (2012) argue that SMEs possesses a chance to achieve a competitive advantage of implementing ICT through novelty, marketing, and consumer responsiveness. Wang and Costello (2009), Yunis, et al. (2012), and Chong, et al. (2012) provide the conclusion with some evidences that SMEs can act proactively to use ICT. Eze, et al. (2012) state that the implementation of ICT can change the business operations in this era of globalization and this change is brought by changing structures of businesses and increasing competition to create a competitive benefit for businesses. In many urbanized countries, ICT is being used to change the way business operations are conducted to obtain strategic advantage. The returns from investment obtained by small organizations through ICT implementation have reduced of certain potentials (Nguyen, 2009). The studies of Higon (2012), Saarenketo, et al. (2011), Tan, et al. (2009), and Trimi (2008) have attributed this issue to factors of organizations including environmental factors, and lack of technical skills. Lopez-Nicolas and Soto-Acosta (2010) argue that the issues in introducing ICT in countries that are under development can be categorized in three classes such as contextual, operational, and strategic. It can be said that the problems regarding context are due to inappropriate selection of models regarding plans and applications in the context of the developing countries. There are certain issues that influence developing countries to implement ICT and the studies of Wielicki and Arendt (2010), Saleh and Burgess (2009), and Day, et al. (2012) depict these issues as absence of skilled human resources, economic constraints, absence of systems infrastructure, and implementation issues.
Grandon and Pearson (2004) highlight the absence of trained human resources as a main barrier, which blocks the effective development of ICT in SMEs of developing countries. It has been stated that such types of absence of counterpart training under technical assistance are not a major issue for SMEs. Saptadi, et al. (2012) evaluate the economic constraints including the nonexistence of reliable statistical information and inadequate capital to finance ICT are among one of the main factors for SMEs. It is obvious that many SMEs are found to be in the early phase of implementation of ICT as the employment of ICT depends on the level to which SMEs are intended to implement new technologies to bring enhancements in their business operations. According to Yunis, et al. (2012), all organizations is suggested that the level of adopting ICT in SMEs depends on the behavior of an organization towards technologies of ICT along with the inclination to deploy them. Trimi (2008), Ghobakhloo, et al. (2011), and Brady, et al. (2002) provides recommendation that the SMEs are required to understand the primary factors behind technological adoption along with the differences in inclination of organizations…