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Why Do SME Owners Use Web-Based Technologies?

Bishop, Donna (2018) Why Do SME Owners Use Web-Based Technologies? Master of Philosophy (MPhil) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:68578)


The purpose of this research is to explore why SME owners use web-based technologies (social media) in their daily work and how this use influences their individual performance in the SME. Drawing on the theoretical insight of cognitive psychology, the process model of absorptive capacity, literature on web-based technologies, literature on business management and strategy, the technology acceptance model (TAM) (Davis, Bagozzi & Warshaw 1989), and the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) (Venkatesh, Thong & Xu 2012), the goals of this research are four-fold. First, establish past experience (PE), past related knowledge (PK), and cognition (COG) as being antecedents of individual absorptive capacity. Second, empirically test IAC at the individual level by showing influence on individual performance in the SME (IPSME). Third, introduce the term cognitive-influenced valuation (CV) from cognitive psychology to explain how it is the case that individual SME owners were willing to follow a technologically-enabled trend (WFTET). Empirical results show that CV is a significant motivator of learning in two ways: i) increased self-confidence on the part of individual SME owners when they have a good grasp of how to serve their clients well through use of social media and, ii) individual SME owners assign a high valuation to those things which motivate them to learn; motives are what drive SME owners' willingness to follow a technologically-enabled trend. Last, introduce the term adaptive behaviors (AB) from business management and strategy to explain how individual SME owners adapted their use of social media from low or moderate to high centrality in order to use social media as a strategically viable business tool (VBT). Empirical results show that when individual SME owners want to be highly competitive as a business goal, then incorporating social media as a strategic business tool would assist them in achieving long-term enterprise success. The first innovative contribution of this thesis is the explanation of the construct absorptive capacity as being the development of the ability to absorb and exploit past experience and past related knowledge (behavior -- up to current) from the environment (Cohen & Levinthal 1990, 1989). Secondly, establish the antecedents of absorptive capacity as being past experience, past related knowledge, and cognition (learning -- up to the current moment) (Cohen & Levinthal 1990). Thirdly, this thesis contributes to existing theory a conceptual framework based on the process perspective of Lane, Koka & Pathak (2006). This research demonstrates the conceptual connection between IAC and IPSME, which might in turn be influenced by WFTET and VBT. A mixed methods convergent exploratory strategy of inquiry is utilized to conduct quantitative and qualitative studies to engage directly with the individual SME owners to better understand why they make the choice to use social media in their everyday work lives and to explore how this use influences their individual performance in the SME. The statistical quantitative proxies were selected from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Adult Population Survey of SME owners' attitudinal and behavioral choices involving their willingness to try new/existing social media to improve their working life (UK only: n=169,280). A qualitative study was conducted of SME owners. The data for this study were collected from one-to-one semi-structured interviews using theoretical concepts from TAM (Davis et al. 1989), TAM2 (Venkatesh & Davis 2000), and UTAUT2 (Venkatesh, Thong & Xu 2012) to guide the interview process (UK only: n=50). The collected data were analysed through the lens of content analysis. Three case studies explore the reason(s) for five SME owners' use of social media in their everyday work lives. The first limitation of this study is the small sample size and the locus of this study being County Kent, UK, where a larger sample size and/or a larger collection radius would yield additional comparative data. Future research including these factors would be beneficial. Secondly, a striking feature of this study has been the lack of correlation between the quantitative data and the qualitative data, which could be addressed by the above, as well. Future research with greater correlation between research focus and subject matter would also be beneficial and yield additional areas of theoretical development. The outcomes of this research confirm that in the context of SME owners in the UK using social media in their daily work lives, they assign a high value to the drive for continuous learning, goal setting, and successful project outcomes. In a much broader more general context, learning for any individual, regardless of the organizational size, is very important and the drive for it is likely no different from any place else. Lastly, in each instance of goal setting and project execution, individual SME owners will select the most useful tool from their social media option.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Philosophy (MPhil))
Thesis advisor: Chau, Vinh Sum
Thesis advisor: Georgellis, Yannis
Uncontrolled keywords: absorptive capacity, cognitive psychology, learning, motivation, social media, web-based technologies
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2018 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 03:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bishop, Donna.

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